Migrante International condemns violence and illegal arrest by PNPRO7 against Lumad students and teachers

Video: SOS Network/Rappler YouTube

Terrorizing unarmed innocent students, depriving them of their right to education, disrespect to the institution, parents and teachers, forcibly taking them out of their Lumad school – these acts of violence by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Office 7 deserve public condemnation and require immediate investigation. This was declared by Migrante International Chairperson Joanna Concepcion, in reaction to the latest police operation conducted with the Department of Social Welfare and Development at the ‘bakwit’ school of Lumad students in the Talamban campus of the University of San Carlos in Cebu City.

“The arbitrary arrest and detention of nineteen students, including three adults, two teachers, and two Datus apparently reflect the immense power of the PNP by virtue of the Duterte regime’s NTF-ELCAC, disregarding coordination in any way with the local government, the barangay or proper authorities. The abduction of the Lumads under the safe haven of the university that has provided a venue for their Lumad Bakwit School exposes another horrifying face of the Anti-Terror Law,” she further stated.

According to the Commission on Social Advocacies (COSA) of the Archdiocese of Cebu, it was in the latter half of 2019 that Lumad students, teachers, and elders came to Cebu to ask for sanctuary and a venue to continue their education while their respective ancestral lands in Mindanao were increasingly being militarized, and their schools shut-down. “Lumad ancestral domains have been encroached by mining oligarchs favored by the Duterte regime under the guise of developing the countryside in the name of national patrimony and economic gain. Tampakan in South Cotabato is an IP land currently under target by Sagittarius Mines for copper and gold mine because it represents one of the largest copper resources in the Philippines and in the world having an estimated resource of 2.94 billion tonnes of ore grading 0.6 percent copper. The deposit also has a resource of 18 million oz of gold,” Concepcion attested.

Migrante International is urging all its chapters abroad to support the urgent call for justice and peace for the indigenous Lumads who are driven out of their ancestral lands and who have long been suffering from military violence and paramilitary harassments, even death of their tribal community leaders including lumad school authorities as a result of national policies that favor only those land grabbers, greedy and powerful state officials and foreign monopoly mining corporations.

Overseas Filipinos stand in solidarity with all indigenous peoples who struggle to defend their ancestral lands and self-determination against fascist policies of the Duterte regime including the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict that is the source of all red-tagging and human rights violations, Concepcion concluded.