The Philippine human rights community is alarmed over President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent public pronouncement, offering P20,000 to Lumad for every member of the New People’s Army they manage to kill.
“To kill in exchange for money is not part of our culture as indigenous peoples. The underlying principle of our struggle to defend the land of our ancestors can never be bought,” a statement of the alternative indigenous peoples’ school Alcadev read.
The Lumad have been fleeing from their respective communities, leaving their homes and livelihoods behind due to the intense military operations. They are also at the forefront of defending their ancestral domains, which has been keeping big foreign mining corporations from encroaching their lands.
“To even ask us to kill, as if killing is the way to peace in our communities, shows ignorance of our plight and our struggle. So many of our leaders have been killed, and it has brought us nothing but grief. We’ve never asked you to kill anyone; all we’ve ever asked for is justice,” Alcadev’s statement read.
Back in 2015, the Alcadev’s executive director and two Lumad leaders were killed by members of a paramilitary group who are reportedly connected to the Philippine military. Killings and harassments against the Lumad people continue to this day.
The Lumad school added that, “members of the military and paramilitary, murderers that they are, never hesitated to kill those that stood in their way as they drove us away from our ancestral lands and paved the way for our people’s demise.”
“We refuse to do the same,” Alcadev said.
President Duterte, himself, had threatened to bomb so-called “NPA schools,” which are actually alternative schools for Lumad children. Recently, he had also called on the Lumad to open up their lands for foreign investors.
Apart from the money offer, Duterte had also ordered to have female guerrilla fighters shot in their vaginas.
“These are orders coming from the Commander-in-chief of the Philippine military that emboldens his soldiers to commit more war crimes and foster an atmosphere of total impunity. This madman’s fascism, lunacy and machismo are signs of cowardice and desperation,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
Meanwhile, the Ramento Project for Rights Defenders, the human rights advocacy arm of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, continues to stand for the rights and welfare of the Lumad people and their struggle.
“It is downright ignorance if not utter idiocy to belittle the principled struggle of the Lumad for land, justice, and peace. They have struggled far, long and hard. This will not detract them from their fight, most especially when they have fellow crusaders among the ever vigorous human rights community in the Philippines by their side,” said RPRD executive director Fr. Jonash Joyohoy. (RPRD News)
(Photo courtesy of Bulatlat.com)