‘Continuing attacks’ against Lumad hit

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/23 November) — Two progressive lawmakers have called attention to what they said are continuing attacks against Lumad or indigenous peoples in Mindanao.

In a statement Wednesday, ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro said that since October 11, students and teachers of Center and Lumad Advocacy and Services (CLANS) in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat had been “harassed and intimidated” by government officials.

Castro said the alleged harassment and intimidation was committed by Palimbang Mayor Abubacar Maulana, representatives from the Education, Social Welfare and Development and Local Government departments, Philippine Marines and Philippine National Police.

“Due to this continuing harassment, about 1,003 students including adult learners were affected and have stop schooling…,” he said.

CLANS is a community school for Dulangan Manobos in Palimbang.

Castro urged Education Secretary Leonor Briones to reprimand DepEd Region 12 director Pudja Acub and other officials involved in the alleged intimidation.

He said Briones should prove her advocacy for alternative education and learning systems “by standing for the Lumads and exacting accountability from her colleagues in the cabinet for the actions of their local officials against the Lumad school.”

“The new Secretary should scrap DepEd Memo 221 that legalizes the military encampment in schools because this only brings terror to students, teachers, and to the communities who had been deprived of their right to education for so long,” he added. 

In a privilege speech on impunity on Monday, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate also cited the reported continuing attacks against Lumad under Oplan Bayanihan, the counterinsurgency program that started under the Aquino III administration.

Zarate said a teacher and Lumad leader from CLANS approached Congress last week to seek assistance for their plight.

He said the reported harassment was disturbing because justice had not been rendered for Lumad victims like Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos and Bello Sinzo.

The lawmaker was referring to three Lumad leaders in Surigao del Sur who were killed by alleged paramilitary men late last year.

The 54-year old Samarca was executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development while Campos was chair of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod, a Lumad organization protesting mining operations, land conversions and plantations.

Karapatan-Caraga in a statement on September 1 last year, narrated that at around 4 a.m. “known elements” of the Magahat-Bagani “opened fire” at Campos and Sinzo “as community members in Km. 16, Han-ayan, Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur were roused from bed and forced to gather in the middle of the community early this morning.”

The Magahat-Bagani are also Lumad. (MindaNews)