End martial law in Mindanao
The Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes calls on President Duterte to end martial law in Mindanao as it has already threatened the lives and livelihood of Moro and lumad people. We also raise concern over the increasing attacks against development workers who are providing services to lumad communities that the government should have been doing in the first place.
Over the years, the lumad have been fighting to preserve their way of life and defend their ancestral lands. Ironically, they have always faced displacement from their lands due to harassments, threats, and worst of all, killings committed by state security forces and paramilitary groups to pave the way for corporate exploitation of their lands and resources.
In a similar way, development workers, like the teachers in lumad schools, have been sacrificing their lives in order to provide services to communities, providing literacy and teaching them diversified farming. But it is unfortunate that these development workers have been enduring relentless harassment from government forces through such methods as trumped-up charges, red-tagging and vilification.
Due to government neglect in providing basic services to the marginalized and far-flung communities, nongovernment organizations like the Alternative Learning Center for Livelihood and Development, Tribal Filipino Program for Surigao del Sur, Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services Inc. and the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. established schools and carried out socioeconomic projects and livelihood programs to support the lumad’s struggle for their right to life and health, right to food and right to development.
Since President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao, the lumad have faced escalating human rights violations committed by government soldiers. Last month, lumad communities in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, were forced to evacuate due to military presence in the area. Mr. Duterte’s post-Sona threat to bomb lumad schools have heightened fear among the lumad who are already affected by militarization because of their resistance to mining and land-grabbing.
We are supporting the call of some 300 lumad students and teachers who are in Manila to stop martial law in Mindanao and the harassment of lumad schools. It seems that the right to development of the lumad people have no place under the Duterte presidency.
We call on President Duterte to end martial law in Mindanao and state fascism, address the roots of armed conflict, and bring just and lasting peace in the country.
RENMIN VIZCONDE, advocacy officer, Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes Inc., www.pnfsp.org
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