Although, I have made some political forecast on this blog, this blog has never been political. One of the latest ‘political’ forecast I have written is about the 2016 Philippine presidential elections. Both my forecast regarding the presidential and vice – presidential results both came true. As I have said, those are forecast and although it is about politics, the nature of the post is not political.
Today, however, I’m going to write about something that may be perceived as highly political. I want to write about the plight of the Lumads. If you are a Filipino who have watched or been up to date about the current political situation in the Philippines, you would have heard about the Lumads. In fact, the Lumads has supported President Rodrigo Duterte in the last election. However, recently just before the State of the Nation Address (SONA) one of their leaders has come out and blatantly said that they regret supporting PDuts and that it was a wrong decision fro them to do so. Consistent with the President’s personality, if you criticize him, he will attack you, and so he did and said that he will bomb all the Lumad schools because they are run by NPAs. Since the announcement, the DND Secretary has since announced that no such move will be made.
After the SONA, I have heard of people attacking the Lumads, but upon probing they seem not aware of who the Lumads are and what are their plight. And so I have decided to write about Lumads and their sad plight. Please note that some parts of the post might be perceived as critical or as highly political. The truth is as much as I want to avoid being political there are truths that can’t be avoided and I do have to write about it, these truths, unfortunately, are political in nature.
So here’s a brief on the struggle of the Lumads.
Lumad is a generic term for all Mindanaoan tribes but I think this excluded all Muslim tribes. .
As tribes their ancestral lands have been threatened many times, on different issues, and by different groups.
Their usual struggle are with loggers, big and small scale, mining companies, big and small scale, etc. To put it simply, any group or anybody who threatens their ancestral lands is also a threat to the Lumads. For years they are being driven out of their ancestral lands to the point that they no longer have stability and peace. Different groups now reach out to the tribes – religious groups (Catholic and Protestant), International and Local NGOs. Government agencies are not as aggressive in helping, if not totally not felt.
Education is also a challenge because DepEd does not put up schools in remote communities. They expect the IPs (Indigenous People) to walk kilometers on end, and expect them to blend with non IPs.
Aside from the fact that DepEd’s curriculum is not IP friendly. It does not have special subjects on culture, tradition, and other IP related issues, which are very important to help them maintain their identity and culture.
Being so, different groups, in different areas different groups have opened IP schools, with volunteer teachers being given “allowances” only. Some teachers are really LET passers that doesn’t have the privilege of having backers at the DepEd and are unable to get a job. So instead of working as cashiers, store clerk or house maids, etc, they’d rather teach even if they only go home 1x, 2x a month and receive only allowance.
The curriculum in these schools are more sensitive to IPs. Of course, there’s emphasis on environmental protection like it’s not proper to cut down trees, and one should take care of rivers, seas, and mountains.
There are ares where the oppressors are aggressive. Mining companies that have driven out IPs maintain PAGs or Private Armed Groups which co exist with the local Phil Army. PAGs have high – end ammo, sometimes they are even than what the army carries. Several of my friends has seen some of them carrying AK -47.
In areas of Davao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, mining companies are trying to explore “other” sites, which are ancestral lands of the Lumads. These are also the sites where the oppressors are more aggressive.
Lumads doesn’t have any weapons, unless bolos are counted, but they only use it for their daily life like chopping bamboos.. Lumads are generally peaceful tribes or people. They’re not warriors like the Tausugs. So when threatened, they NEED to look for help. So when they become vulnerable because of a threatening situation, they don’t have much choice but to ACCEPT the help of the NPA. The Lumads also admit that there are a few ‘renegade’ Lumads that are being recruited by the PAGs. Of course, in situations like this, money is involved. These renegade Lumads turn their back on their tribe.
As mentioned Priest and Nuns also help the Lumads. The nuns who sells Turmeric Powder, they usually get it from the Lumad communities.
Of course, each group has it’s own approach. The church usually helps in education, livelihood and spirituality. The NPAs provide protection and security.
At this point I would like to make it clear that there is no way I condole violence and support the ideology of the NPA.
2 years ago, a foreign owned mining company that seems to have ties with a Congressman from Visayasdrove out and burned a community in Surigao which they have been wanting to EXPLORE but the Lumads have tried so hard to protect. Because of this the PAGs killed the executive director and 2 volunteer teachers in Surigao IN FRONT of the whole Lumad community. PAGs with the local Army (of course they denied), gathered the whole community, separated the men, women, children they then slit the throat of the ED, then gun down 2 teachers in full view of the shocked Lumads.
Governor Pimentel (although some say he is also connected with Mining companies) took the thousands of Lumads and housed them for over a year at the provincial sports complex. He challenged the national agencies (NBI, PNP, AFP) to arrest and disarm the PAGs.
The national agencies said, why didn’t the police of the Governor arrest them? But according to the governor the .38 caliber of their police is literally rusty, how can they fight with PAGs with AK47!
Anyway, no apprehension was ever made.
It is sad that lately the Lumads are evacuating the area again because they are being harassed either by PAGs or the Army.
This problem has been existing for quite some time, and it is difficult to put the blame on a single administration. However, it is also clear that mining is one of the main reason of this attrition. But so far, mining continues, despite of the pronouncement that the administration is against it, it does continue to these days. Gina Lopez was supposed to be the hope and savior of the Lumads, but her efforts were put to an end when the Commission on Appointments didn’t approved her, and it is perceived that the president didn’t put pressure on CA to have her approved.
Anyway, so every so often, this is what happens to the Lumads. PAGs will threaten Lumad communities, the church will help, but when violence erupts it really are the NPAs who help them.
The Army is said to hate the IP schools because IP kids become more intelligent and know their right because of the IP schools.
Before I end this post, I would like to state that this is how I understand it, but please feel free to learn more about it by doing your independent research. I would like to stress here, I don’t mean to put what the NPAs are doing in a good light, neither do I support any form of violence, be it from the rebel or from the government. I also don’t support the ideology of the NPAs.
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