• COMMENTARY

    Oplan Bayanihan turns into Oplan Sarilihan

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    WHAT the government claims to be and names Oplan Bayanihan seems to turn into Oplan Sarilihan. Lumads, the indigenous people residing in Mindanao, became the target of the tremendous killings yhat started on September 1. Tribal leaders and educators were killed in front of the Lumad community in their own territory –in the room of the Alcadev school that has formed the dreams of many Lumad youths.

    This phenomenon is said to have been perpetrated by the military groups appointed by the government; however, some reverses the finger-pointing to the New People’s Army, denying the military’s involvement in the Lumad killings.

    A year ago, there was already a report stating the same accfusation, but the government seems to play the game of Bulag-bulagan, Bingi-bingihan, and Pipi-pipihan. What has been seen can never be unseen, but they chose to remain blind and silent despite the escalating killings against the Lumads.

    The irony is the government envisioned Oplan Bayanihan as an act to carry out “people-centered strategy” and counterinsurgency operations within the framework of human security. This purpose has not been well-established as what is happening in reality is in opposition of their written – and never acted upon – goal. Was the execution of the tribal leaders and educators which led their whole community into a massive and immediate evacuation within the frame of human security? Was the government’s claim of not being fully knowledgeable of the issue a part of their “people-centered strategy”?

    The militarization of tribal areas, the deprivation of IPs of their human rights, and the extrajudicial killings experienced by the Lumads are all tell-tale signs that disprove the capability of the government’s infamous claim of Bayan Muna, Bago Sarili. No diffusion of responsibility has been made, because in the first place, it is the government’s downright responsibility to protect and secure the safety of everyone, no matter what group they belong in.

    At once, President Aquino finally had something to say about the recent talk of the nation, stating that there is no campaign to kill anybody; however, his comments do not matter. They never mattered, for what people call for is his action, and not his mere observation.

    Bringing killers to justice is something the Lumads and their advocates are calling for, but the impunity enjoyed by the military groups hinders the Lumads from getting the justice they deserve–and allows the guilty to continue perpetrating their heinous crimes.

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