“Aquino has never acted on our plight, worse, he himself mandates all of these attacks against the Lumad and our community. Our people, our community, our schools are the military’s target.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – More than a hundred residents of Side 4, Mangayon village in Compostela Valley fled from their community on Dec. 3, and have sought refuge in the municipal gym after a series of harassment from soldiers under the 66th Infantry Battalion.
In a statement, Jong Monzon of the Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao or Pasaka said residents were opposing military encampment in their community, which resulted in the disruption of classes in their tribal school Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (STTICLC).
“Aquino has never acted on our plight, worse, he himself mandates all of these attacks against the Lumad and our community. Our people, our community, our schools are the military’s target,” Monzon said.
Last month, hundreds of Lumad had returned to Mindanao after the month-long Manilakbayan, which brought to the “center” their plight as soldiers and members of paramilitary groups disrupt their daily lives, brand them as rebel supporters, harass and even kill them as what happened in the Sept. 1 brutal killings in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.
Pasaka documented 14 cases of harassment among residents from June to November this year. These cases mostly include red-tagging and one attempt to kill an entire tribal family last Nov. 22.
These attacks also did not spare the children. On June 22, three children were victims of indiscriminate firing by soldiers deployed in their community.
Monzon said these attacks were orchestrated to drive the people away from their community so that big mining firms could encroach on their lands.
Meanwhile, Monzon expressed gratitude to all organizations supporting the plight of the indigenous people. Apart from those seeking refuge in the Compostela Valley municipal gym, there are also more than 800 Lumad from the provinces of Bukidnon and Davao del Norte who are seeking refuge in the UCCP Haran since May.