CHR condemns violations against Lumad communities
MANILA, Philippines - In a statement released on Monday, November 2, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) urgently called for the cessation of violations against the Lumad community.
The statement defends the indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, condemning “in the strongest possible terms the violence and gruesome killings of members of the Lumad community.” (READ: Listening needed to #StopLumadKillings)
The statement noted how both sides of the conflict in Mindanao - including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) - continue to recruit the Lumad as part of their forces. It also stressed how both sides are also perpetrators of numerous crimes against these communities. (READ: Lumad kids tell senator: Military makes Manobos kill each other, Is the military innocent in Lumad killings?)
“From 2001 and September 2015, at least 35 cases of extrajudicial killings involving 59 members of the indigenous peoples’ community in Mindanao have been reported to the Commission for investigation. Of these, 10 cases were allegedly perpetrated by the AFP, while 8 cases were attributed to the NPA," CHR said.
CHR also criticizes the persistent "encroachment" by mining companies of the ancestral domains of the Lumad in Mindanao. Such territory is known to hold rich deposits in gold, copper and nickel. The statement mentions the companies’ “lack of genuine compliance with the exercise of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), as stipulated by the Indigenous Peoples Republic Act.” (READ: Leave the Lumad alone!)
As part of their request for the government to uphold the rights of the Lumad community, CHR called for “the speedy issuance of Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs)” along with “genuine implementation of the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP).”
Such request were recognized as “concrete steps in recognizing the legitimate struggles and aspirations of the Lumads for development and social justice.” (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Addressing Lumad killings and internally displaced people)
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) secretary-general Renato Reyes said, however, that the CHR's statement "mitigates the ultimate responsibility of the AFP and the Aquino regime in the systematic violations of the righst of the Lumad."
The leftist group blamed the government's counter insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, in targeting Lumad communities.
"(The CHR's statement) portrays the Lumad as merely being caught between the two sides of the armed conflict, when in fact the Lumad have themselves become the targets of the AFP's counter-insurgency drive," Reyes said.
He added: "That the Lumad join the NPA is not by itself the problem. It is merely the result of the continuing plunder and abuses committed against the Lumad."
CHR's report comes in the wake of a week-long, youth-led “Solidarity Campout” that hosted more than 700 Lumad in Manila. The campout called for increased recognition and protection of the Lumads’ human rights. - Rappler.com
Lorenzo Benitez is a Rappler intern. He is an incoming Cornell University student.
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