Indigenous folks under attack
As advocacy officer of Children Rehabilitation Center here in Southern Mindanao, I have been in the forefront of the advocacy for children’s rights and welfare. And being so, I have been witness to the psychological trauma and impacts that the many wars the government is waging in many fronts in Mindanao have left on children and adults alike.
In the first quarter of 2015, the war policy of the Aquino administration has driven thousands of our fellow Filipinos belonging to lumad communities and other cultural minorities out of their homes. Aside from the 93,000 evacuees in Maguindanao, 1,515 Banwaon from four villages of San Luis, Agusan del Sur, are currently seeking refuge in a nearby town, protesting against the atrocities that government troops and a paramilitary group known as Maggahat Force are subjecting them to.
My heart bleeds for these Banwaon. What they are going through now is not unlike what the Manobo of Talaingod, Davao del Norte, are experiencing after they were “targeted” last February by the military and by Alamara, the armed paramilitary group being used by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in military operations.
Recently, I joined an International Solidarity Mission to give relief, psychosocial and medical services to the Banwaon and Manobo people and to document cases of human rights violations victimizing their people. From the testimonies I heard directly from the victims themselves, I am strongly convinced that the government is indeed waging a war against these unarmed people. They are not members of the New People’s Army but they are nevertheless tagged as rebels. They are in fact victims of the government’s “ethnocidal” policies.
I am appealing to the Filipino people to help stop government from implementing this nonsensical war policy. This is an immoral policy which we cannot allow to continue. We should not allow our taxes to be wasted and used to violate and attack innocent Filipinos.
Let us stop this madness before it is too late!
—RIUS VALLE, advocacy officer, Children Rehabilitation Center, [email protected]
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