Over 600 indigenous Mangyan families have been forced to evacuate from their homes in Victoria and Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro due to military operations including low-altitude strafing and bombing.
By JUSTIN UMALI
CALAPAN CITY – Religious groups from the Southern Tagalog region have embarked on a ‘peace and mercy mission’ going to various communities in the island of Mindoro, starting Oct. 27 until Oct. 31.
The core program of the mission is to conduct relief missions, counseling, and prayer vigils in communities, particularly those “especially affected by the social unrest in Mindoro.”
Reverend Junwell Bueno, regional coordinator for the Southern Tagalog Regional Ecumenical Affairs Movement (STREAM), one of the conveners of the mission, said, “Our purpose here today is to conduct a ministry of hope and care, and provide for those who need it the most.”
STREAM describes Mindoro as “experiencing social unrest from marginalization, development aggression, and oppression brought about by various factors.” Mindoro is currently experiencing increased militarization due to Oplan Kapanatagan.
According to Karapatan Southern Tagalog, over 600 indigenous Mangyan families have been forced to evacuate from their homes in Victoria and Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro due to military operations including low-altitude strafing and bombing.
Last June 29, Printis Gutierrez, 80 years old and a church elder in Calintaan, Occidental Mindoro, was killed by suspected soldiers after being accused of being a New People’s Army fighter.
In March 2017, elements of the military bombed a Mangyan community in barangay Benli, Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro. According to accounts from residents, soldiers also restricted access to food and water.
The 150 delegates of the mission will visit communities in Victoria and Roxas, Oriental Mindoro; and San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.
“Our faith informs us that no human being in this world ought to be treated inhumanely,” Bueno said in a statement. “As members of the church, we must realize that our strength lies in keeping our communities of faith intact towards our advocacies against any infringement on the sanctity of our God-given lives.”