A LUMAD leader called on the government on Saturday to stop martial law in Mindanao and instead focus on sustaining the lands of Lumads and supporting the education of the children in the island.
Dulphing Ogan, secretary-general of Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao, a group that aims to promote and strengthen “subregional indigenous peoples alliances in Mindanao,” said Lumads could no more question the military operations within their areas after President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law.
“Marami nang pinapatay. Marami na ang nabilanggo. Marami na ang mayroong mga gawa-gawang kaso,” Ogan said in an assembly at the St. Raymund de Peñafort Building, adding that military officials in Lumad areas could answer “Martial law na ngayon; kami na ang nasa power,” when questioned on their actions.
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, following the clash between government troops and Maute terrorists in Marawi City.
Environmental exploitation also continues in Mindanao, Ogan said.
“Tulad ng mina, tulad ng plantasyon, tulad ng malalaking dam, [ang mga] ito ay nangangailangan ng malawak na lupain. So ‘yung mga lupa namin, [‘yung] mga lupang-ninuno namin ang talagang direktang kinukuha,” the Lumad leader said.
“Ang buhay namin ay lupa kaya sinasabi namin na ang lupa ay buhay. Kung kunin mo itong lupa sa amin, para ring kinuha rin ‘yung buhay namin,” he added.
Yasser Gutierrez, a graduate of the University of the Philippines-Diliman and a volunteer Lumad school teacher, encouraged the government and student organizations to conduct assemblies to “explain the situation in Mindanao and assist in financing, supplying, and volunteering to teach in Lumad schools.”
“Save Lumad and Moro schools; fight for nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented education. Itigil na ho ang batas militar sa Mindanao; itigil na ang pasismo, at higit sa lahat, itaguyod ang karapatan sa edukasyon at sariling pagpapasya ng katutubo at pambansang menorya sa buong Pilipinas,” Gutierrez said.
There are nine out of 10 Lumad children who have no access to education, 146 alternative schools and programs provided to Lumad children, 87 schools with reported cases of military attacks and 233 reported cases of children’s rights violations from 2010 to 2015, data from Save Our Schools Network revealed.
A week-long “Kampuhan sa UST” from Sept. 11 to 21 has been approved by the UST administration but UST-League of Filipino Students (LFS) Chairperson Bluei Fausto said it is still unclear whether the Lumads will be allowed to stay within campus grounds. F CRIS EUGENE T. GIANAN