Lumad to Winnie Monsod: 'Visit us to know our plight'
MANILA, Philippines - Lumads slammed University of the Philippines (UP) professor and columnist Winnie Monsod on Tuesday, September 22, after she asserted in a controversial column that they were being used for a political agenda.
"Hinahamon namin ang mga tulad ni Prop. Monsod na bisitahin kami upang malaman nila ang tunay naming kalagayan," a Lumad representative said in a press conference in UP Diliman, the Philippine Collegian reported in a Twitter post.
(We dare those like Professor Monsod to visit us so they will know our plight.)
In a column published in the Inquirer on Saturday, September 19, Monsod said that the Lumad were being "exploited" by leftists.
"It looks to me, folks, like the Lumad are being taken advantage of, and not by the army. They have an age-old culture, and style of governance. Their datus can certainly hold their own. They can speak for themselves. So why do these leftist groups insist on talking for them?" Monsod said in her column.
A representative of Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (Kalumaran), a confederation of different indigenous tribes in Mindanao, said that Monsod's sentiment was nothing new.
"Hindi na bago ang ganyang pahayag, nais naming iparating na hindi lang kami biktima. Sa simula'y nakikibaka na kami," they said in the same press conference. (This is not a new sentiment. We want people to know that we are not victims. We've been fighting for our rights from the very start.)
'Leave the Lumad'
Kalumaran has expressed alarm over a series of alleged direct attacks, killings, arrests, harassments, zoning, and vilification in Lumad communities where there is a strong resistance against mining, logging, and land grabbing. (READ: TIMELINE: Attacks on the Lumad of Mindanao)
The attacks are concentrated in the provinces of Bukidnon, Davao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur, which are hosts to Lumad schools that are operated by non-governement organizations but are regulated by the Department of Education (DepEd). (READ: Leave the Lumad alone)
The Lumad are fighting against Oplan Bayanihan, the government's counter-insurgency program which they claim are being used to harass and abuse Lumad communities, Kalumaran claims.
"Ang tuwid na daan ni Aquino ay para lamang sa malalaking kumpanya na nagreresulta sa pagkasira ng kalikasan," Kalumaran said. (READ: #StopLumadKillings trends: Nasaan ang Pangulo?)
(Aquino's 'straight path' is just for big companies that want to abuse our resources.)
The military denied that soldiers were involved in the spate of killings and violence committed against indigenous peoples in various parts of Mindanao. (READ: AFP denies role in Lumad deaths)
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) earlier said in a dialogue with the Lumad that the killings were “extrajudicial.” – Rappler.com