Last October 9, more than 50 activists gathered at the Magsaysay Park in Divisoria to light 40 commemorative candles in memory of three Lumad leaders killed last September 1 by Magahat-Bagani militiamen in Sitio Hanayan, Liangga, Surigao del Sur.
Most of the activists were members or supporters of the Lumad group Kalumbay and the human rights group Karapatan-Northern Mindanao. The 40 candles represented the 40 days that have gone by since the killings took place. These killings were also instrumental in triggering the evacuation of around 3,000 Lumad villagers from the area.
In My Opinion
Once again, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist – or in the case of Philippine politics, it doesn’t take a politician – to figure out the root causes on these continuing conflicts happening all over Mindanao, something being underrated due to the unnecessary focus on the conflicts that have brought about the BBL.
Since the Americans granted independence to our country, Mindanao and its indigenous tribes, especially the Lumads, have always been ignored by the Manila government. Too many presidents have sat down in that Manila palace only to continuously ignore the plight of Lumads who keep resisting mining activities and plantation expansions in predominantly Lumad land areas that have been already guaranteed by this same government.
Imagine owning a piece of land that your family has owned for generations, and you have the title to prove it, but when a capitalist suddenly does mining on your land and you complain to the government, this same government is suddenly dragging its feet to do anything, will even tell you that these mining operations are “crucial to the economy and national security of the country.”
This sums up what the Lumads are going through, and worse, the local armed forces, far from helping out the lumads, instead lead the lumads to militarization by arming tribesmen as militia to combat the increasing recruitment of other Lumads into the NPA.
One doesn’t have to be a genius (or a politician) to figure out that the only way to stop NPA recruitment and activities is to stop militarization and illegal capitalist venturing into Lumad lands. Choke off the main reason for recruitment and you choke off the NPA’s, not to mention improving the life and development of Lumad communities. Instead of guns and bullets, government and NGO’s should work hand-in-hand to improving the community life of these Lumads by setting up more schools and finding ways to improve their agricultural methods.
All the above may seem like “wishful thinking” and “far from reality” by many observers, but then, giving guns and bullets to hungry tribes people is far from “reality” compared to improving their life and helping them develop their culture further.
Note: Every now and then aboutcagayandeoro.com and its parent company LogicBase Interactive LLC comes out with an opinion column to address a specific issue that affects the whole city as well as the region. The opinions, ideas, and even facts stated in the column however, do not necessarily reflect the views of the website and the company.