Davao City Councilor Leah Librado has condemned the violent police raid at the compound United Church of Christ (UCCP) in the Philippines and sought an investigation of the incident.
She was referring to the attempt to forcibly evacuate indigenous peoples (lumads) from the UCCP Haran Center last week, wherein at least 15 people were hurt when police who were armed with batons and truncheons ripped through barricades.
The people were residing at the center because they were afraid to return home due to alleged harassment by government troops battling communist rebels in the provinces.
“This obvious show of brute force is not helping the situation of the lumad evacuees. They fled their homes because of intensified militarization and sought shelter in what is to be a neutral sanctuary (UCCP church) and yet, police were ordered to evict them without resolving first the issue on hand,” Librado said.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, lashed out at North Cotabato Cong. Nancy Catamco, who chairs the Committee on the Indigenous Peoples, for the violent attempted eviction of displaced lumads.
He said Catamco interfered with the business of a local government unit.
“Kulang, eh (She lacks this)” Duterte said as he pointed his fingers to his head. “She is irresponsible and she was the one who refused to listen to reason.”
Duterte also said Catamco need to learn the “niceties of life.”
He questioned Catamco’s motives behind her insistence to evict the around 700 indigenous peoples from the provinces of Davao del Norte and Bukidnon.
Meanwhile, the advocacy group Sulong Katribu has called for Catamco’s removal from the House Committee on Indigenous People.
“We cannot fathom the logic of Catamco to force the lumad evacuees to return to their communities without resolving the adverse impacts of militarization and the rampage of state-sanctioned paramilitary groups in their territories,” said Sulong Katribu chairperson Windel Bolinget.
The group said Catamco grossly violated the rights of the lumads and because of this, she deserved to be removed from her office.