October 13, 2015

Dear Friends of the Lumad:

“Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground, as a voice crying out for justice.” (Gen. 4:10). The prophets of the Old Testament relentlessly criticized the people of God who failed to worship the Truth. Rites and ceremonies are empty of worshipping God if they fail to respond to the cries for justice of people who weep because they are persecuted and oppressed. (from the Message of the Indigenous Peoples Apostolate of the Tandag Diocese in commemoration of Indigeous Peoples Sunday, 11 October 2015.)

More than 40 days have passed since the brutal killing of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) Director Emerito “Sir Tatay Emok” Samarca, Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) Chairman Dionel “Onel” Campos” and Kiwagan Datu and MAPASU member Datu Juvello “Bello” Sinzo and the subsequent forcible evacuation of 26 Lumad communities in Surigao del Sur last September 1, 2015.

The perpetrators of the killings remain at large, paramilitary bandit groups continue to exist and military units that organized, arm and use these paramilitary units have not been made accountable. Military operations using the same armed bandit groups and augmentation military forces have escalated resulting to another incident of forcible evacuation of over 150 families last October 1, 2015. Vilification campaigns against the evacuees and institutions and organizations that support them have escalated, clearly an attempt to rationalize the killings and continuing attack.

The evacuees want to go back to their ancestral lands and their homes to rebuild their communities, livelihood and schools. They will do so if the perpetrators of the killings and their leaders are arrested, their military handlers are held accountable and these military and paramilitary groups are no longer in their communities.

Thus an International Fact Finding Mission (IFFM) will be held in Surigao del Sur in Caraga Region on October 26-30, 2015 to validate, strengthen and amplify the concrete bases for these calls. This will be spearheaded by the Friends of the Lumad (Pagkabugkot tu Lumad), a Caraga-based alliance of church people and professionals supporting the calls of the Lumad people, with the Tambuli tu Kalinow, Paneytow tu Kahusoy (Call for Peace, Search for Justice) and Bugduka tu Anyadan (Save Our Schools Caraga) campaign alliance. In this connection, we are inviting you and your organization to join us in this important undertaking.

For inquiries and more information, please contact Naty Castro (Tambuli/IFFM secretariat) @ 09071009904; Lilian Laurezo (Bugduka tu Anyadan secretariat) @09468121649; Anabelle Campos (SOS Caraga secretariat) @09073301184. You may also email us at saveourschoolscaraga@gmail.com.

Hoping for your positive response, we remain,

Sincerely yours:

(Sgd)

FR. FORTUNATO ESTILLORE, DCT

Convenor, Friends of the Lumad in Caraga

Director, IPA Diocese of Tandag

SR. STELLA MATUTINA, OSB

Convenor, Friends of the Lumad in Caraga

General Secretary, Barug Katungod Mindanao

BP. MODESTO VILLASANTA, UCCP

Convenor, Friends of the Lumad in Caraga

Karapatan Surigao del Sur

RT. REV. RHEE TIMBANG, IFI

Convenor, Friends of the Lumad in Caraga

Surigao Cares

MRS. ROSANILLA CONSAD

Convenor, Friends of the Lumad in Caraga

Defenders of Human Rights Victims – Agusan del Norte

Attached herewith is the orientation for the IFFM. Thank you.