Philippines: Lumad Schools: Built By Blood, Strength And Courage
STATEMENT of the PASAKA Federation of Lumad Organizations Southern Mindanao
May 23, 2018
Our schools are built with our blood, our strength and our courage. It expresses not only our aspiration that our young generation attain formal education, but also our struggle for self-determination.
Whenever we see threats coming from the state to bomb our school, to burn or destroy it, we see it as an attack on our dreams and on our people.
We are not dumb or slow-witted to the accusations hurled by this government that we are “brainwashed by the Left or the NPAs”. We are a community, we are a tribe that have practiced our culture and our own system of governance.
From this system we have defended our ancestral lands from companies that wanted to intrude and plunder our resources, from logging, mining, plantations. We know destroy the order of nature, the rivers, the forests, and ultimately our own lives.
Our fight to defend our lands is not just our fight, because we protect the source of life, of food that nurture the people in this region, the farmers and urban poor who are also fighting for their right to life.
For you, we are nameless faces, victims of government’s own terror campaign that is Martial Law in Mindanao, as we face constant encampment and attacks from the military and paramilitary in their never ending counterinsurgency operations.
We strongly condemn the silence and collusion of government agencies to close 56 Lumad schools in Mindanao that forced 2,209 students to drop out. We also want to reveal the shameless act of the military of forcing 1,106 students, teachers and parents to claim themselves as “rebel surrenderees”.
We condemn the military’s arrest of teacher Jolita Tolina from CLANS school in Sultan Kudarat as she faces false charges. We also condemn that the agriculturist of our Salugpongan school Dominiciano Muya is still languishing in jail for three years facing trumped-up charges.
It is outrageous that the military denies their hand in all these atrocities against our people and our school. Amidst their denial, they continue to oppress us, throw us to jail and even silence us through bullets and depriving our rights.
We raise our demand to be heard by the public and the government. We have the right to protect our schools and our ancestral land from militarization.
We demand the government of President Duterte to stop uttering words of peace, but instead try to address the root cause of armed conflict and go back to peace talks.
We raise this in the name of our people, who has since time immemorial fought for our land and lives.
Pasaka Sec. General
Datu Kaylo Bontolan
Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanogon
Bae Jenelyn Bueno
Datu Mentroso Malibato