alahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod
(Persevering Struggle for the Next Generation)

April 30, 2019

Reference: Media Officer (0907 1374 635)



We are greatly offended by the contrived holding of a “legislative inquiry” by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Congressional Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples (CICCIP) and the 401st IBde of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and their vilification at the press conference held after. Their actions were clearly designed to further malign our Lumad schools, the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, Inc. (ALCADEV) and Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur, Inc. (TRIFPSS).

Since April 26, 2019 to April 28, military troops belonging to the 401st Brigade, arrived in Km. 9, Sitio Simowao, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur and encamped in the civilian homes of Sitio Emerald. On April 28, the military gathered the residents at the school. At 9 o’clock in the morning a helicopter was seen flying and 10 high luxury cars then arrived going straight to the school run by TRIFPSS.

We were taken aback by what happened and were not aware who those people were. Without permission, they attempted to open a classroom but were stopped by a community official. They proceeded, still without permission, to take pictures of the school.

We found out later that they were the “inspection team” led by Atty. Reuben Lingating, Chairman of the Indigenous People’s Peace Panel of OPAPP; Adora Pueblo, Committee Secretariat of CICCIP and representatives from DepEd, DILG and NCIP. They were joined by member of the Magahat paramilitary group led by Marcos Bocales. According to them, the visit was done to verify reports that the schools are connected to the CPP-NPA. CICCIP added that they already submitted “significant data and information” to the Office of the House Speaker and National Security Adviser last December 2018 and January 2019. The inspection was allegedly based on such data.

Their actions violated us Lumad and disregards due process of conducting investigations.

First, the investigators were joined and led by the 75th IBPA, 401st IBPA, Magahat-Bagani and OPAPP, who are the masterminds of the false accusations, vilification and lies thrown against us Lumad of MAPASU and our schools. For a long time, they have been violating our human rights through killings, threats, food blockade, filing of trumped-up charges, bombing,s strafing and others which constantly forced us to evacuate.

Second, they were accompanied by members of the Magahat-Bagani led by Marcos Bocales who massacred two MAPASU leaders and ALCADEV executive director last September 1, 2015. These people have been wanting to be recognized as Lumad leaders so they can sign the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) to enable the operation of coal mining within the Andap Valley Complex.

Clearly this is how things are done in the country now, the accusers are the ones investigating to ensure that the findings will conform to what they want to project.

Third, they pushed aside the local government of Lianga. We noticed that no representative from the provincial and municipal government units were with them. In the past, the local government units closely coordinated with us for their programs and activities in respect to us Lumad. No communication reached us. Is this how congressional inquiries are held now wherein affected communities are not informed?

Fourth, they did not investigate while they were in the community of Simowao. What they uttered the same things they expressed in the dialogues of previous evacuations where they vilified us and our schools. They want us to admit to their lies and make us submit to their every command.

At the presscon held last April 28, 2019 in Butuan City, we were again accused and vilified by the military led by General Antonio Parlade, Jr. , Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military of AFP and Brigadier General Andres Centino of the 401st Infantry Brigade. They put on a show and presented the result of the “inquiry”. They presented two of our teachers and used them to vilify our schools. We know that they have been threatened and forced to speak against us. Last July 21, 2018 during our evacuation, the two were stalked, called, texted by the military to stop supporting the Lumad or something bad will happen to them. Last January 13, 2019, they were again texted and threatened. On the months of February and March, they were constantly visited at their residence to force them to meet with the soldiers. During these times, they were constantly vilified and threatened by the FM station of AFP in Brgy. St. Christine where the military camp is also located.

It is clear that the so-called “inquiry” is nothing but a display to hopefully provide basis to their made-up accusations against TRIFPSS and ALCADEV to force the closure of the schools.

TRIFPSS has served the Lumad people through the delivery of education for 25 years. For the longest time, since the 1950’s, no services from government agencies reached us. It was only the church which provided and supported TRIFPSS to help educate us Lumad and teach us the sustainable cultivation of our land. ALCADEV was established through our collective effort, for our children to achieve higher knowledge. In the past, not even one of us finished high school because of the high cost of education in schools in the lowlands, aside from being discriminated against. In the 15 years of service of ALCADEV, our children attained higher education, many returned to serve the communities and became our literacy teachers, our partners in developing farms, our health workers ensuring sanitation and good health.

What the military and the government agencies have done shows their lack of respect for us Lumad. They do not recognize our right to our ancestral lands and to self-determination, our right to choose the kind of education suitable to our culture, traditions and way of life. They belittle our unity. These people treat us like we lack the ability to think.

We reiterate, that we, Lumad people united under MAPASU, declare that we will continue to defend our ancestral land in the Andap Valley Complex because we know that the main reason for the vilification of our schools is the underlying interest to plunder our ancestral lands! They do not want us Lumad to be educated and know our rights because it makes it harder for them to deceive us.

Defend ancestral lands!

Uphold the right to education of the Lumad people!

Uphold the right to self-determination!

Expose the violations of the AFP!
Attachment(s) from International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines | View attachments on the web

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(1) 2019_April_30_MPSU_Statement_English.pdf