DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 January) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s order to “destroy” the New People’s Army (NPA) endangers thousands of Lumads (indigenous peoples) and farmers in Mindanao as it gives the military a “go signal” to continue the deployment of troops and operations in their communities, a Lumad group said Tuesday.
Kerland Fanagel, chairperson of PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations-Southern Mindanao, said the all-out war could displace the indigenous peoples, worsen the situation in Mindanao and cost the President “isolation and condemnation” from the Lumads. Fanagel said over 100 Manobo evacuees from Talaingod and Kapalong towns in Davao del Norte have been holed up for four years at the Haran evacuation enter of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Davao City to escape alleged harassment by paramilitary and military units in their areas.
He said PASAKA-SMR noted that 34 of the 112 victims of politically-motivated killings recorded since 2016 were Lumads, including a student from Talaingod who was killed last year by the Alamara, an alleged paramilitary group. He said a certain Ricky Olado, 30, a Lumad in Arakan, North Cotabato and member of the Tinananon Kulamanon Lumadnong Panaghiusa was killed on January 28.
Another Lumad, Timuay Alberto Andes, a leader of the Subanen tribe in Zamboanga del Norte was arrested by the paramilitary. Upon arrival from his two-day visit in India on Saturday at the Davao International Airport, Duterte said his order against the “enemies of the state,” including the NPA, is to destroy them.
He also vowed to go after the so-called legal fronts of the NPA. “Pero kayong (but you) enemies of the state, my orders are really to destroy, to destroy the apparatus. Itong NPA, totodasin ko talaga sila. Tatapusin ko. (This NPA, I will kill them. I will finish them). The talks are over. No more talks,” Duterte said.
He said he will also order Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to cancel the permits of mining companies that are paying the NPA so-called revolutionary taxes. “Kayong mga nakikinig, Kayong mga Lumad. Niloloko lang kayong lahat niyan. Alam mo kung si — kay sabi ko nga, kung bright ‘yang Sison na ‘yan, siya ang Presidente ngayon galing sa India, hindi ako. (Those of you who are listening, you Lumads. You are just being fooled. As I said, if Sison was really bright, he could have been the President who visited India, not me),” he said.
He said the money the NPA reportedly collects from mining companies is being used to fund an organization that destroys the country. Fanagel said there has been a rapid deployment of troops in Mindanao, including the 56th Infantry Battalion and the 15th IB from Bicol Region that are detailed in Davao del Norte, North Cotabato, and Bukidnon. “It shows that this government is no different from the past governments who launch counter-insurgency programs that target Lumad and peasant communities and schools. They will fail to silence the Lumads who are defending their culture and their ancestral domain from mining and plantations,” he added.
Duterte’s Proclamation No. 374 declares the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA as terrorist organizations pursuant to Republic Act No. 10168, also known as the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2002. The law states, “It is the policy of the State to protect life, liberty, and property from acts of terrorism, to condemn terrorism and those who support and finance it and to recognize it as inimical and dangerous to the national security of the country and the welfare of the people, and to make financing of terrorism a crime against the Filipino people, against humanity, and against the law of nations.”
The proclamation added that the law “criminalizes the financing of terrorism and dealing with property or funds of designated persons/organizations, and prevents and suppresses the commission of said offenses through freezing and forfeiture of the property or funds of said designations persons/organizations, among others.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)