Indigenous peoples ask: Where can we run to?
It’s logical. If the Philippine president himself threatens to bomb a school of indigenous peoples (IP), where else can we run to?
These self-help schools were built by the bare hands of the Lumad people because there were no schools in their communities. The schools such as Alcadev in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, whose executive director Emerito Samarca was killed with Lumad leaders Juvelio Sinzo and Dionel Campos in 2015, were expressions of Lumad people’s hunger for genuine development while preserving their culture of collectivism and care for environment. It is a way of the Lumad elders to secure the future of their next generations and equip the youth to protect their ancestral lands from corporate plunder and land grabbing.
The US-Duterte regime is now taking the anti-people road. This road will eventually lead him to accountability unless he makes a turn left, the road to just and lasting peace through the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-GRP peace talks, and make radical changes in his policies which will address basic problems of the Filipino people.
Instead, President Duterte bullied us indigenous peoples and Moro who joined the people’s protest during his State of the Nation Address by saying “Umuwi na kayo.” We came all the way from Mindanao to call for a stop to the all-out war, martial law and bombing of our communities. Thousands have evacuated due to threat of bombings and human rights violations of military and paramilitary groups.
And we were bullied by no less than the President.
Our situation as national minorities is already worse as it is. The Maranao people continue to suffer in evacuation centers as the Armed Forces of the Philippines refuses to end the firefight to justify the extension of martial law. The IP are still facing the wrath of the all-out war through intensified military operations in communities. Political killings against national minorities continue with 21 victims under the Duterte regime.
With President Duterte’s threat to bomb Lumad schools, violence is encouraged against Lumad and Moro.
If the schools were destroyed, so is our future. Essentially, it is to destroy our race.
If so, we are left with no choice but to resist.
JEROME SUCCOR ABA,
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