CBCP’s Commission on IPs protests NCIP’s resolution on ‘Lumad’

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews) – The Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples (ECIP) of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)  and the Indigenous People’s Apostolate (IPA) of Mindanao’s dioceses are protesting “in the strongest possible terms” the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) resolution denouncing the use of the term ‘Lumad’ to refer to non-Moro Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao and enjoining the public “to address the IPs by their respective ICC/IP affiliation or ethnolinguistic group.”

“Lumad” is a Cebuano word meaning indigenous or native.

The NCIP claimed that that the  “emergence and continued use” of the word Lumad is is “marred by its association with the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines), NDF (National Democratic Front) and NPA (New Peoples’ Army) whose ideologies are not consistent with the cultures, practices and beliefs of ICCs/IPs.”

MindaNews reported last week on the  usage of the word ‘Lumad’ to refer to non-Moro IPs in Mindanao, tracing it to the the late 1970s (Read: “The IP struggle continues as NCIP red-tags and bans the use of ‘Lumad,’ the collective term for Mindanao IPs since the late 1970s”)

Signed by Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Jose Cabantan on behalf of ECIP-Mindanao and IPA network, the “Statement of Protest against the NCIP’s resolution denouncing the use of the term Lumad,” was posted on the ECIP Facebook page last Monday and the online CBCPNews.

The ECIP-IPA Mindanao said they would like to set the record straight that “it was the churches in Mindanao-Sulu – through its network of church people engaged in solidarity work with the Lumad communities – that gave rise to the popular usage of the word Lumad. It arose without an ideological agenda, let alone that of the communist movement.”

“It did arise out of a united people’s concern to defend the rights of the Lumad from the perspective of a Christian faith that is concerned with the least of our brothers and sisters victimized by both an repressive State and business firms interested in usurping the Lumads’ ancestral domains for profit purposes,” the statement added.

It urged the NCIP “not to be derailed in their mandate to serve the IPs of this country by engaging in actions that are only counter-productive and can only lead to fragmentations among our ranks. Instead, the NCIP should concentrate in fulfilling their tasks to support the struggles of the IPs for a better life, lived in justice and peace, free from coercion, harassment and victimization from various forces.”

“On our part, we pledge to continue what we have done in the past sixty years, to align ourselves in the struggles of our Lumad sisters and brothers.  By doing so, we are merely following the exhortations of our Holy Father, Pope Francis who has reminded us through his encyclical Laudato Si and talks at various fora that  ‘Indigenous peoples are a cry of hope. They know what it is to listen to the earth, to see the earth, to touch the earth. They remind us that we human beings have a shared responsibility to care for our ‘common home’.’”

It concluded its four-page statement by saying that it is “by engaging in generous dialogue and by joining forces,  that we will end up becoming more aware of the fact that we need each other, as well as be able to highlight the fact that harmful behavior affecting the environment around us also has a negative impact on the serenity and fluidity of coexistence” and the Lumads “cannot continue to suffer injustice” and young people “have a right to a better world than ours and expect coherent and

The ECIP’s mission is to “work for and with Indigenous Peoples in their effort, first, to secure justice for themselves, second, to protect their ancestral lands, and third, to preserve their cultural heritage.”

It also aims to foster among the Christian majority “a greater awareness of and appreciation for the Indigenous Peoples in order to help in lessening, if not totally eradicating, prejudices against them” and to undertake specific programs “for the realization of the above functions with the approval of the Bishops concerned and in collaboration with their respective Indigenous Peoples’ Apostolate, inclusive of complying with the directives from the Holy See and instructions from the Conference.” (MindaNews)