Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao secretary general Duphing Ogan accused Duterte of encouraging the plunder of the environment and natural resources instead of telling the indigenous people to protect their lands from the hands of landlords and foreign investors.
AP/Bullit Marquez
Duterte’s plan on use of Lumad's ancestral lands a ‘total sell-out’ — group
Gaea Katreena Cabico (The Philippine Star) - February 7, 2018 - 10:34am

MANILA, Philippines — An alliance of indigenous peoples in Mindanao denounced President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to find investors to develop the ancestral domains of the Lumad, calling it a “total sell-out.”

“This would mean a total sell-out of the remaining ancestral lands and mineral resources that have been long defended by the Lumad against foreign multinational corporations,” Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao secretary general Duphing Ogan said.

Ogan accused Duterte of encouraging the plunder of the environment and natural resources instead of telling the indigenous people to protect their lands from the hands of landlords and foreign investors.

He added that the 65 battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines have been deployed in Mindanao “to secure the investments of foreign multinational corporations.”

“This has resulted to more human rights violations against Lumad leaders, peasants and Moro communities as well as human rights defenders,” Ogan said.

He added: “It is also expected that the present number of victims of extrajudicial killings, massacre and forced displacements will continue to rise as we are under siege by the implementation of martial law and as more troops are being deployed in Mindanao.”

READDuterte will not expel Lumads from ancestral lands, says Palace

Opening economic opportunities

Speaking before Lumad leaders, Duterte on February 1 said he would personally choose the investors who would develop their ancestral domains to spur economic activity in the region.

In a press briefing Monday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte wants to weaken the hold of the New People’s Army over the Lumad, who are allegedly forced to join the rebels.

Opening economic opportunities in Lumad communities would reduce poverty and eventually drive away members of the NPA, Roque claimed.

He clarified that bringing in investors does not mean that the Lumad would be expelled from their ancestral lands.“It is not ethnocide. He (Duterte) is not forcibly removing them from their ancestral domains.”

Roque also noted said indigenous peoples in the southern Philippines can refuse foreign investors to develop their lands, as mandated by law.

But for Carlo Conde, researcher of Human Rights Watch Asia Division, the Philippine government should take concrete actions to end rights violations instead of leaving the Lumad at the mercy of businessmen.

“Government plans to improve the lives of the Lumad are unlikely to succeed so long as indigenous communities live in fear of violence, exploitation and abuse,” Conde said.

He likewise noted that the Lumad are more susceptible to recruitment by NPA because they often suffer from the military’s abusive presence and exploits.

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