Youth party condemns militarization of Lumad communities anew amidst intensified US-AFP military operations under Martial Law

Friday, July 7, 2017

Kabataan Partylist joined youth groups as they condemned another spate of militarization of Lumad communities in Mindanao, which has resulted to class suspensions in community schools and forced evacuations of hundreds of Lumads.

“This is what we’ve been saying all along: it is the people of Mindanao who bear the brunt of Martal Law. The government’s ‘all-out war’ only wreaks havoc to innocent civilians: their lives, homes, and livelihood,” Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago said.

“What’s the AFP’s reason for occupying these communities? Have they found evidence of Maute presence there? The AFP believes that a lot of NPA rebels in Mindanao are Lumad, so, following that logic, they have come to militarize Lumad communities. In effect,  they not only trample on their rights, but destroy their homes and livelihood; even the education of the children have been affected,” added Elago.

The Lumad are active in the peasants’ struggle for land reform and their right to self-determination. Because of this, they have been vilified by the military as NPA rebels or supporters. This was not the first time the Lumad have been forcefully displaced from their communities.

Lumad children scared, fear for their lives

According to a statement released by Karapatan-CARAGA, a bomber plane was seen circling mountain communities in Lianga, Surigao del Sur in the middle of the night last Wednesday, July 5, 2015.

Following the threat, around 200 learners of ALCADEV and 43 volunteer teachers of 5 community schools of TRIFPSS were forced to evacuate. Classes were suspended due to the evacuation, affecting a total of 633 Lumad learners.

This is in addition to about 2,047 individuals from the 9 Lumad communities in Lianga.

The evacuated Lumad communities just started rebuilding their farms, homes and schools, following a forced evacuation in 2015 after the killing of Lumad leaders, namely MAPASU chairperson Dionel Campos, ALCADEV director Emerito Samarca and datu Bello Sinzo. The massacre was perpetrated by members of the paramilitary group Magahat Bagani who were accompanied by troops of the 75th IBPA.

“This is no thanks to the continuing threat of martial law in Mindanao. Having only targeted civilian communities, it is a slap to their faces that this rain of bombs and bullets continues and has been in fact justified,” said Elago.

“The Supreme Court has, just a few days ago, ruled that the martial law in Mindanao, despite all its disproportions, is legal. This only gives license for the military to launch more all-out offensives on our communities, and further their vested interests in extending their scope nationwide. Only the army, in collusion with the US imperialist masters, will benefit from such in their desperation to quell the people’s increasing resistance,” Elago added.

“Despite this, the continued all-out offensives and martial law will far from weaken the people’s resistance. In fact, it will only strengthen it further as they realize that amidst the continued attacks by the state, only their unity and action will advance their struggle for real change,” Elago concluded. ###