Philippines: AFP’s lies, desperate attempt to end indigenous peoples’ just struggles
*We denounce the military assembly of some 150 Lumad, mostly children, in Nasilaban, Talaingod, Davao del Norte on June 9, 2018 and the deceitful announcement that Datu Guibang Apoga has surrendered to the military. This is another devious move to strip the Manobos of our right to our ancestral domain and self-determination.
“Fake Surrender.” The Alamara-AFP paramilitary forces and the 56th IBPA orchestrated the Lumad gathering to make it appear that the ailing and elderly Manobo tribal chieftain Datu Guibang Apoga has “surrendered” himself and the tribe’s struggle to defend the ancestral domain from mining, logging and energy corporations and the scornful militarization of our communities.
Datu Guibang is one of our esteemed community chiefs, who bravely led our pangayao (tribal war) against the ALSONS logging corporation in the early 1990s. Because of his leadership and unity of our people, we were able to protect the Pantaron mountain ranges, our home, from the expansion of so-called “development projects;” and this paved way for the development of our livelihood and establishment of our community schools.
In his speech at the assembly, Datu Guibang spoke of his desire for the Lumad schools to continue to serve his people. Owing to his age and failing health, he spoke of what he perceived as his inadequacies as the tribe’s chieftain. Nowhere in his brief discourse did he speak of surrendering his conviction nor did he endorse the demise of our tribe and struggle.
The military and the US-Duterte regime has grown desperate in quelling our ranks. In the last few months it placed 3 army battalions in our ancestral lands, intensified its campaigns for the closure of community schools and harassment our teachers, students and parents, and now waggles Datu Guibang as a surrendered leader.
The military and past regimes since the 1990s had committed grave human rights abuses against us. We have been repeatedly forcibly displaced by the regimes’ relentless counterrevolutionary military campaigns of suppression. Our ancestral lands and resources grabbed and plundered.
A struggling people. We have survived the gross government negligence and discrimination. We have prevailed over the various grave injustices and prejudice by carrying on our fight not just within our ancestral territories, but in the streets, church sanctuaries and universities where we found great support.
We have come this far and we expect to tread on more strenuous roads and uphill battles ahead. As the greed for capitalist super-profit on the natural resources in our ancestral domain linger, we will continue to be confronted with militarization and various forms of persecution that result in the killings and massive displacement of our people. Our weapon remains in our unity amid struggle. And as we do so, we urge and rely on the boundless support of our friends and the Filipino people. #EndMartialLaw #ResistTyranny #EndOplanKapayapaan
*Statement of the Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanugon (Unity in Defense of Ancestral Domain, a Lumad-Manobo community organization in Davao del Norte)