TO show my disgust, I write this to help create more awareness of the deplorable situation and make an urgent call for action against the inhumane militarization that our indigenous groups, our Lumads, face in Mindanao. I write to share and spread knowledge of these barbarous actions by our military. I call for all who are willing to take responsibility for this collective action for a solution.
Lumads are ethnolinguistic groups in Mindanao. These groups have been living there for hundreds and even thousands of years, and living together with other groups that share linguistic and cultural similarities. They are peaceful, beautiful and they pretty much symbolize the true native Filipino.
Lumads are facing an extrajudicial crisis of inhumane militarization. Their leaders are killed and communities destroyed for the false accusation of being part of the New People’s Army. The Armed Forces of the Philippines are killing and even butchering these leaders without enough evidence and without acknowledgement of the victims’ human rights. The alarming thing about this is that it is not only happening in one place but happening throughout different provinces in Mindanao.
Upon researching, I found a list of names of the Lumads who were killed in Davao and Socsargen Regions in 2009. The list contains 357 names. Most of them were datus and leaders. I also found out that an unnamed girl, who is 4 years old, was on that list. Lumads were forced to evacuate out of their communities. With no homes, they faced the struggle for health and survival. At present, more than thousands of Lumads have been killed and many are still facing this inhumane barbarous activities of the AFP and their trained paramilitary groups .
All Lumads are affected by this barbarism. Elders are disrespected in their own territory by the so-called soldiers. Women are raped and maliciously acted upon by these soldiers. Lumads are treated like slaves in their territory. They live in fear under the threat of being made victims of extrajudicial killing.
What really disgusts me the most is that they’re also killing the emotional stability and dreams of the young Lumads. These children have the right to dream and experience quality living, yet they are deprived of a good quality of education. Education for basic knowledge and education for their rich culture cannot be achieved because most of them don’t want to go to school. Innocent and young minds seeing death, terrorization and inhumanity in school causes the loss of a child’s determination to go to school. Upon research, I found out that some principals and teachers were killed in front of their students. They were killed in the classroom, where young minds are supposedly to be shaped. And by seeing death in a classroom, these brutal and merciless acts are sure to shape the minds of these young Lumads.
I also found out that some soldiers, when drunk, fire guns in classrooms, and even point guns in the faces of the young Lumads. Young female Lumads were also maliciously molested by these drunk soldiers. It builds traumatic experiences to their young minds and anger in their vulnerable spirits.
It may look like that it is already the end for these Lumads, but it is not. We could still do something to help. We could still defend them and give them hope.
I found an article where the writer cited ways on how we can help. He pointed out that demilitarization and declaration of peace zones must be done in these Lumad communities. He wanted an international investigation to be conducted in parallel with a Commission on Human Rights (CHR) investigation. He suggested that the government should invite the UN office for the rights of indigenous peoples to visit the affected areas and report on what is seen and make the appropriate recommendations. He asked the religious leaders to band with political leaders to make sure that no further killings happen. He urged government agencies like the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to come in and do their job.
The Department of Education should take the responsibility of addressing this problem.
For us students with little money, there are simple but impactful ways that we could do. We can actively join in campaigns against these inhumane killings. We could write articles, like this, and share it with newspaper companies, or put it on our blogs. We could organize different forums and events to address the unacceptable actions, and to spread awareness of these evils. We could donate any amount that could help Lumads in their daily living. We should be volunteers to help the young Lumads achieve quality education.
We could do a lot of things to help in every little way. We just have to always believe that a bright future will come for the Lumads and for us. We should never lose hope, because losing hope entails sorrow and failure. If we have the heart to lend a helping hand and the guts to fight for the Lumads, we can achieve a bright and peaceful future.