Revisiting 1 year of tyranny and social insufficiency in Mindanao
WE DEMAND the immediate lifting of Martial Law to end military rule that further oppressed the toiling people of Mindanao. As we observe, said year of military rule in Mindanao brought widespread human rights violations and intense militarization over the island. We would like to restate all the atrocities committed by the Duterte Administration against its own people, especially the national minorities (Lumad and Moro) and the farmers. We believe that through this mean, it will help us understand the real intention and effect/s of Martial Law.
It is very unjust to use the ghost or specter of Marawi sieged and issue in putting the whole island under Martial Law. In fact, the main reason why the President declared ML is to give and make leeway for foreign and giant corporations to mine and convert the remaining ancestral lands of the toiling Lumad and Moro’s.
History teaches us that there is no such mining operation nor aid from foreign entity in the past who respected the traditional way of life of our ancestors neither brought genuine social development. It is very sad that indigenous livelihood and food security processes is always at risk at the expense of so-called modernization. Alarmingly, said proclamation of the President served corporate interest, to control land and resources, of the exploiting class.
Instead of protecting the people’s basic universal right to healthy, sustainable and safe food, communities were heavily bombarded and militarized by the State. Massive cases of human rights violations like killings, vilifications, forced disappearances, red-tagging and other kinds of threat to their life and livelihood are experienced daily. All these are clear manifestation that the government wants to curtail people’s right to development. A pure evidence of rigid dictatorship and tyranny.
During a press conference after his SONA in July, he vowed to bombard all Lumad schools being operated by non-government organizations like the Alternative Learning Center for Livelihood and Development (ALCADEV), Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services, Inc. (CLANS), Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. (MISFI) and the Tribal Filipino Program for Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS). It is alarming, because these institutions carry out socio-economic projects and livelihood programs and reforms in support to the Lumad’s struggle for their right to life and health, right to food and right to development which the government cannot do.
The President has been true to his words and without hesitation, after declaring ML, communities had been subjected to aerial bombardment and militarization that caused massive evacuation of Lumad communities. One highlighting incident was in November 26, 2017, wherein about 1,688 Lumad of at least 345 families in the town of Lianga, Surigao del Sur, had need to evacuate due to intense military operations in their area. The operation affected the realization of humanitarian aid and programs on livelihood and food security. Worst of all, the 75th IBPA checkpoint refused the entry of various food aid brought by national and international humanitarian groups at Simowao Community Learning Center where the Lumad had evacuated to avoid military operations.
Schools being heavily bombarded and militarized are Salugpongan Ta’Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (SALUGPONGAN), Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. Academy (MISFI Academy), Father Fausto Tentorio Memorial School (FFTMS), Tri-Farmers Program for Community Development (TFPCDI), Tribal Filipino Program in Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS), Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), Center for Lumad Advocacy and Networking, Inc. Learning Center (CLANS) and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Lumad School Project (RMP). Said schools are active in promoting organic and sustainable agriculture in support to their community. But, because of aerial bombardment and intensified militarization, the school can no longer perform its task like providing education to actual practicum. Thus, it affects the capacity and potential building of their own community when in terms of agricultural production.
From July 2016 to March 2018, there are 8 extra-judicial killings, 6 frustrated extra-judicial killings, 36 military encampment in school and community, 49 forcible school closure, 207 threat, harassment and intimidation, 29 forcible evacuation, 13 indiscriminate firing, 4 aerial bombing, 61 vilification/ red tagging, 28 illegal arrest and detention/ filling of trump-up charges, 18 destruction/divestment of school and community property, 16 forced/fake surrender, 22 coercion, 7 torture, 15 violation of domicile, 5 physical assault/injury, 10 food blockade/ denial to humanitarian access and 1enforced disappearance incidents are recorded. Number of community, schools, teachers and students being targeted and victimized of said incidents are ranging from tens to thousands.
To sum-up, there are 535 incidents of different forms of State-sponsored human rights violations and attacks on Lumad schools and communities in four regions of Mindanao. They were committed by the State under the Duterte administration and 385 of which or 72% were committed during the reign of Martial Law in Mindanao.
These only shows that Martial Law brought extreme threat, poverty and terrorism in the context of systematic attack against people’s basic human rights, food and shelter. Under said proclamation, people can no longer do their social function like planting of crops, feeding animals, learning in schools and other social related task that provides basis for them to eat safe, healthy and sustainable food. Martial Law promoted the very contrary of progress like fear, hunger, poverty, death and suffering. If not stop, heavy destruction to life, property and economy are possible results.
We believe that each party must return to the negotiating table and talk about how to address the roots of domestic misunderstanding. The GRP must perform its duty and mandate of its own people. Promote peace, development, justice and prosperity. It must listen to the voice and cry of its farmers feeding the whole nation, to its workers building the economy, students and teachers, national minority and other oppressed sector of the Philippine society. It must show sincere passion to solve domestic crisis by peaceful means and not on the expense of democracy. For in the past, without substantial political, economic and social responses to these historic social problems, resistance will continue in various forms and way.
THERFORE, we call to all peace loving people and organization to please work hand-in-hand to lift Martial Law in Mindanao. We strongly believe to collective action and Martial Law is not the concrete nor sole answer to both poverty and social unrest. To address said problem means to start resolving food and job insufficiency in the vast countryside. The government should play its role in promoting sustainable and mechanized agriculture with pro-people orientation. At the same time, it should maximize its resources in creating more opportunities for local farmers and producers for them to be able to establish their own network and marketing. Creation of secured livelihood like just and descent work may help our countrymen to have access to right to food. On the other hand, Genuine Agrarian Reform must push into Congress so that all farmers and the country as a whole can have food security not only today but for coming years. It is a mean to alleviate the country from poverty and hunger.