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Indigenous communities suffering

When the Arroyo government labeled Human Rights Watch report, Scared Silent Impunity for Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines as biased, we were not surprised. Anyway, this is what this government has been good for all this time — to call as liar and unfair those who speak against its lies about the political killings concocted in the Task Force Usig investigation, which for all its meager worth only stood to show the whole world the fascist mask of the Arroyo government.

This has even more alienated Mrs. Arroyo from the Filipino people and the international community who are seeking for an end to the political killings and the culture of impunity that has veiled this country since she assumed the presidency.

Of the 858 victims of  political killings under President Arroyo’s watch, 85 are indigenous peoples. This number only includes documented deaths. But the justice we seek include those whose deaths remain unknown, whose deaths never reached the lowlands but continue to haunt us nevertheless.

This figure in fact is not enough to sum up the viciousness of the ruling regime and its military forces. The experience of the Lumads in Mindanao alone depicts a grim and ruthless picture. For instance, when the Alamara Paramilitary Group led by Andigao and two regular soldiers from the 73rd Infantry Battalion strafed the children’s community school in Sitio Nabunturan, Kalagangan, Davao del Norte-Bukidnon boundary on February 18 2006, 28 children were victimized, 18 adults and a lumad teacher was killed while the other teacher was seriously wounded.

 In the Arroyo regime’s policy of all out war, indigenous communities are the ones who suffer death, displacement; threatening their survival as a people.

And so it is our duty to express that we stand by the Human Rights Watch statement, along with Karapatan’s report and all testimonies by the victims’ relatives.

We are propelled by our love and dedication to truth and justice to reiterate the call for a stronger world alliance against the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. The peoples’ hopes remain strong that justice will be found, if not now; then in the time to come when genuine peace is to be restored.

For now, the overwhelming support from peace advocates and civil libertarian groups in the country and in the international community dignifies our cries for justice despite the cowardly denial of the government and the military. — DATU MONICO CAYOG, PASAKA, Confederation of Lumad Organizations In Southern Mindanao, C/o Diakonia Center, IFI Compound, F. Torres St., Davao City, e-mail: yutangkabilin@yahoo.com

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