“President Aquino, your heart is as hard as that of the Pharaoh who refused to end the oppression of God’s chosen people.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – A group of nuns from Mindanao is the latest among the ranks of the Catholic who expressed support for the call of the Lumád to stop the attacks and killings in their communities.
The Sisters Association in Mindanao (Samin), a 300-strong organization of Catholic nuns founded in 1983, also lamented how the ranks of the religious have also suffered attacks, being branded as supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA) and charged with fabricated cases.
“President Aquino, your heart is as hard as that of the Pharaoh who refused to end the oppression of God’s chosen people. You have not heeded the intervention of the church to leave the Lumád in peace,” said the group in a statement.
The nuns cited how children suffer the most as soldiers encamp in their schools, which “should be off limits to aggression.”
“As we speak now, President Aquino has deployed more troops to the Caraga region and a school has in fact been burned there by AFP-backed indigenous paramilitary group,” said Sister Maria Luz Mallo, Samin executive secretary.
On Nov. 12, the teachers’ cottage of a branch of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) in Padiay village, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur was razed to the ground, along with some $10,000-worth of farm and school equipment, appliances, books and school supplies.
The group is here in Manila “to show solidarity with the Lumád,” in response to Pope Francis’ call to “proclaim the joy of the Gospel to the poor.”
They said they support the call made by Manila Archbishop Cardinal Antonio Tagle, to help bring attention to the plight of the Lumád and his “unequivocal call” to pull out military troops in the communities. Tagle made the statement in his visit to the Manilakbayan camp in Manila last week.
The nuns also lamented that Sister Stella Matutina, the former chairperson of Samin, has been charged with criminal cases, such as kidnapping, serious illegal detention and human trafficking, for supporting the Lumád evacuees in Davao city.
“We see this as part of the Oplan Bayanihan of the military to discredit all those who support the just cause of the indigenous peoples who are fighting for their land, rights and culture,” the group said.
“We implore you to hear the cry of the Lumád,” the nuns said.
The Manilakbayan ng Mindanao are being housed inside the compound of the Catholic National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Baclaran Church) along Roxas Boulevard in Paranaque City, after their stay in Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila was cut short by security preparations for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meetings.