NPA killing Lumads?
HOTSPOT - Mocha Uson (The Philippine Star) - September 25, 2018 - 12:00am

Ever since the beginning of his term, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has been active in pursuing peace for this country. And one of the major steps in doing so was to engage in peace talks with the CPP-NPA. Sadly, it’s been two years and yet no compromise has been met between the government and this arc of the Philippine Left.

Worse, the victims of the violence allegedly being waged by the CPP-NPA in the peripheries of the country are becoming more and more apparent. In this context, the victims are the indigenous tribes in Mindanao.

I have recently met with the leaders of indigenous tribes based in Mindanao. In this meeting, these IP leaders aired their grievances not against the government, but against the CPP-NPA because of the latter allegedly committing various kinds of violations toward them. And they explicitly stated that they have had enough of the communist bloc’s antics.

Militarization does not exist

According to the group, calls to stop militarization by the CPP-NPA is nonsense, mainly because militarization does not exist in their areas. Rather, the ones allegedly committing crimes is the communist group and its minions, as they were the ones killing IP leaders who refused to take part in their cause. Around 300 to 500 IP leaders were said to have been killed by the group and its armed front, and those surviving are now asking for justice and for the government to document the killings.

On the other hand, the IP tribes represented by their leaders whom I sat down with, state that their tribes have been benefitting a lot from government interventions. As of late, they have received land for ancestral domain, education for their children, and livelihoods for their people living in the mountains. These may be unsung forms of assistance, but they attest to these good deeds.

However, they see the CPP-NPA to be doing nothing but damage their culture, and more importantly, their future.

CPP-NPA and their gross violations against IP tribes

Another allegation held against the CPP-NPA is that they continuously disrespect the culture and values of the IP tribes. These include turning their fellow tribesmen into “tactical bakwits” by bringing them to Manila and organize rallies. Invading their communities have led tribes to move out of their lands, and they have also been instrumental in using IPs to humiliate the government, which are all not in their culture.

The IP leaders have stated that it is not in their values to humiliate or condemn their leaders. Rather, they maintain respect despite differences in beliefs, and they believe that CPP-NPA does not understand that.

Because of these violations, IP leaders are now calling for the government to stop the peace talks with the CPP-NPA. The longer the peace talks run, the bigger the window of opportunity the communist bloc takes advantage of in terms of dominating not just their territories, but taking over their lives as indigenous people, and as human beings.

Real, actual peace

There are over 6.7 million indigenous people in the country, and 60 percent of them are found in over 25 provinces in Mindanao, consisting of 18 tribes. Sadly, they are the ones first affected whenever conflict arises between the government and secessionist groups, armed or otherwise.

For many years, their struggles have been used over and over to ride on other bigger, albeit selfish causes.

The lies have to stop. The killings have to stop.

It’s time to give them real, actual peace. The kind of peace they and their future generations deserve.

For the full interview with the IP leaders, please go to https://goo.gl/tvib5s.

RODRIGO DUTERTE
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