By MARIA EDEN T. DINO
MEMBERS AND supporters of the Lumad community on Tuesday renewed their call on the government to end martial law in Mindanao which led to school bombings, military harassment to students and teachers, and deprivation of Lumads’ right to education.
RJ Perez, a four-year Lumad volunteer teacher, claimed that the military specifically targets the schools of the Lumads.
“Ayaw na ayaw nilang matuto ang mga Lumad sapagkat ang mga Lumad na nag-aaral ngayon ay tumatayo at lumalabas na ng kanilang mga paaralan upang ipaglaban ang kanilang karapatan,” Perez said. “They are being oppressed by the basic social services.”
Ramel Miguel, chairperson of the Association of Community Educators (ACE), shared that school leaders were killed and teachers were shot by soldiers in front of the students.
“May illegal arrest rotation pa para ma-charge against sa IP (indigenous people) educators, para ma-shutdown ang school, [at] para mahinto na ‘yung pagkatuto ng mga Lumad para sa gayon, madali para sa kanila na lokohin ang mga Lumad,” Miguel said.
More than 7,000 students were affected, 33 schools were shut down, and 2,047 individuals and nine communities have evacuated due to martial law in Mindanao, the ACE chairperson said. “Ibig sabihin, hindi nakakatulong ang martial law. In fact, nagbabadya na paparating na ang martial law sa Luzon at Visayas.”
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, following the clash between government troops and Maute terrorists in Marawi City.
Despite the possible danger posed by military presence, Renanto Galo, a Lumad student, said it will never stop him from learning to fight for their rights.
“Sanay na po kami sa ganoon. Matagal na po naming nararamdaman ‘yung takot at ngayon po ay dahil sa takot, napilitan kaming lumaban. ‘Yun po ang dahilan kung bakit kami nandito,” Galo said.
The Martial Law Commemoration Forum and Exhibit held at the UST Central Seminary Gym is in line with Lakbayan 2017. F