Who is obscuring the ‘lumad’?
It’s Solita Monsod and her reductionist politics. In her column last Sept. 19 (“Who is exploiting the ‘lumad’?”), she misled the public by framing the issue of lumad violence as simply brought about by the New People’s Army’s vehemence or the Left’s propaganda against the military.
Monsod began the column by providing supposedly inconsistent statistics on indigenous peoples (IPs) from government agencies, particularly the National Census and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples. She emphasized the unreliable data as if these were the main issue in the lumad crisis currently being discussed by the media and the public. The issue is very clear: the killing of lumad and tribal leaders, the continuation of this administration’s culture of impunity against IPs, and the glaring state neglect concerning their continued evacuation.
She framed the problem first with the IP population, as if giving a subliminal message that since the IPs seemed to be a minority, the issue is not that big a deal, and that because of this numerical insignificance, the issue is not worthy of public attention. The way her argument was presented, it appeared that the lumad crisis is just a Mindanao issue and does not represent the conditions of all IPs in general. She even framed the discourse of this issue as between the Left and the military.
I hope the neoliberal economist would find time to read articles and reports to keep herself informed on what is happening on the ground. Clearly, the voice that is capturing the public interest comes, not from the Left, but from the lumad. As we can see in their forums and rallies as well as interviews with the media, the lumad themselves are sharing their experiences, showing in the simplest terms how they are being victimized by paramilitary groups in their own land. The mobilizations that are happening are in accordance with a legitimate right to call for justice and a stop to this madness. Is Monsod saying that this is an exclusive domain of the Left? That the lumad have merely been politicized in calling for justice, and not practicing their inviolable right to dissent?
It is understandable for Monsod to show her bias toward the military by claiming that respect for human rights has been incorporated as among its important values. But it is unacceptable to use this defense as an excuse to evade accountability and culpability for the deaths of our “kapwa Pilipino.” It is a disgrace to brag about her pro-army stance while disregarding the legitimacy of the IPs’ long and bloody historical struggle for self-determination.
Her boldness in defending the military seems to show her true colors, her stand on extrajudicial killings, her preference for a culture of violence, and her partiality for the status quo. This ideological stand is alarming as it runs contrary to the burning hope of the lumad to find justice and to live a life of respect and dignity.
—ALEJANDRO IBANEZ, [email protected]
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