“October is national indigenous people’s month. Sandugo and other indigenous peoples’ organizations are set to commemorate this event through activities to assert the rights of national minorities for self-determination. If this is what the AFP claims to be the “Red October,” so be it,” Jerome Succor Aba, Sandugo Moro co-chairperson said in response to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claim that the indigenous peoples are part of the plot to topple Pres. Rodrigo Duterte called “Red October.”
“We are well within our rights to fight for self-determination. To defend our ancestral lands and territories against destructive mining projects, huge energy projects and plantations is just. Even to arm ourselves to protect our race, our land and our culture is just. This is the very reason why we still exist amidst colonization. We will not be cowed by the AFP’s red tag,” Aba said.
“The suffering people are more united than ever against the US-Duterte regime because of the ever worsening economic conditions of the country due to his anti-poor policies like the TRAIN law. The contractual workers, the landless peasants, the urban poor settlers being targeted for OplanTokhang, the consumers feeling the surge of prices, and us, the national minorities whose communities are being bombed and members either killed or arrested, we all wish the end of Duterte’s reign,” Aba said.“Masyado na kasing pahirap,” Aba continued.
“Instead of resolving these huge problems of the Filipinos, the AFP concocts stories to spread hysteria in order to divert the attention of the public from the significant issues. Yet, hunger can’t just be ignored,” Aba said.
“Just as the AFP came out with the Red October scare, more human rights violations were committed against the national minorities,” Aba said. “Just this morning, three Lumad leaders were illegally arrested by elements of the 36th Infantry Battalion at Sitio Poog, Maitom, Tandag City, Surigao del Sur. The victims, Enercito Catapte, Junie Catapte and Lito Delicona all leaders of SIDLAK Lumad organization, have strongly opposed the entry of mining and logging concessions in their ancestral lands” Aba reported.
Among those recently killed is Mariam Uy Acob, 43. On September 23, she was aboard a tricycle in Brgy. Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao when she was shot several times. Acob, a human rights worker for Kawagib Moro Human Rights, has been documenting cases of massive forced evacuations in Maguindanao due to aerial bombings. A recent 10-day airstrikes and indiscriminate bombing by the AFP in Maguindanao, that was directed by US Special Forces on the ground, caused one civilian casualty, three severely wounded and over 7000 displaced Moro people, including 400 children and 50 pregnant women. Acob has been receiving death threats prior to the murder.
“The national minorities, specifically the Moro and the Lumad, suffer the greatest blows from the Duterte government’s martial law in Mindanao,” Aba said. “There are currently 67 victims of extra-judicial killings, 27 incidents of bombing affecting 353,988 individuals, 58 incidents of forced evacuation affecting 401,582 individuals, 140 incidents of attacks on Lumad community schools, forced closure of 70 Lumad schools affecting more than 2600 Lumad students, and hundreds of victims of illegal arrest, detention and filing of trumped-up charges. From July 2016 up to the end of May 2018, at least 15,757 evacuees have been reported in the province of Maguindanao alone,” Aba reported.
“It is clear, it is the AFP’s plot that is pushing the people to remove the President, and it is the military and the president who are the real destabilizers and terrorists of the nation,” Aba concluded. ###