We, convenors of SANDUGO Kilusan ng Moro at Katutubong Mamamayan para sa Sariling Pagpapasya, saw that NPA’s lifting of unilateral ceasefire is bound to happen this time. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has yet again proved itself to be the peace saboteurs and war mongers.
It was during 2nd National Council Meeting of SANDUGO when the New People’s Army declared the lifting of its unilateral interim ceasefire effective on February 11, the same time we are discussing AFP’s atrocities in our communities.
We saw how the AFP took advantage of the NPA’s ceasefire and the ongoing formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), to enter to our communities, occupy our schools, barangay halls, health centers and disrupt our lives and livelihood. We saw the soldiers harassing and interrogating our tribesmen and labelling us as supporters or member of the NPA.
It is as if the AFP is not in a unilateral ceasefire at all. Its attacks against the people continued. We, the national minorities are still the victims of the counter-insurgency program, then Oplan Bayanihan, and now Oplan Kapayapaan.
The series of rights violations against national minorities are as follows:
- the killings of Lumad leaders
- T’boli tribal chieftain Venie Diamante on January 5 in Koronadal City
- Lumad-Mamanwa Veronico Delamente on January 20 in Brgy. Cagdianao, Claver, Surigao del Norte
- Ibabawon leader Jimmy Saipan who was killed on the eve of the Sandugo’s formation during 2016 Manilakbayan.
- The enforced disappearances of Dabis Mogul and Macky Bael both Lumad of Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat for opposition to the expansion of Consunji Inc’s expansion of its mango plantation
- vilification and harassment of parents and teachers of the Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services (CLANS) in the municipality of Palimbang has resulted in the disruption of classes of hundreds of Dulangan Manobo school children
- Forced attendance of Subanen communities to assemblies initiated by the 53rd Infantry Battalion. They were subjected to interrogation and accused as NPA rebels in the area
- In Caraga region and Northern Mindanao regions, the 29th, 23rd, 36th, 75th Infantry Battalions and AFP Special Forces have continue to wreak havoc in Manobo, Talaandig, Mamanwa and Banwaon communities. These military forces used and encamped in community health centers, barangay hall, day care centers.
- Evacuees from Brgy. White Culaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon have yet to come home for the threats to the residents remain.
- In Ag-agama, Western Uma in Lubuagan Kalinga, the 50th IBPA remained encamped in civilian houses since October 2015. Civilians bear the atmosphere of fear with drunken soldiers roaming around sporting their guns and on several occasions accompanied with indiscriminate firing.
- In Sallapadan, Abra, in September, while conducting patrol operations in search of the New People’s Army, the 24th IB encamped in residential communities. The soldiers deceitfully announced that the unilateral ceasefire has already lapsed. In Ifugao, from July to September, around 300 soldiers from the 54th IBPA and 77th IB CAFGU conducted military operations in Tinoc and Asipulo where they set up patrol base in the elementary school and occupied houses in sitio Cocoy, Barangay Tukucan. Similar AFP occupations of communities were reported in Cervantes, Quirino and Tubo.
Shortly after the ceasefire declarations of both parties, our communities have already cried foul against the AFP’s continuing attacks on us. “Si Presidente lang ba ang naka ceasefire, hindi ang AFP?” (Is this ceasefire only for the President and not the AFP?) our brothers and sisters asked out of confusion.
All this while our Moro brothers and sisters receive most of the suffering from the GRP’s all out war against the Abu Sayyaf and other terrorist groups.
The GRP have already failed to release the 382 political prisoners. The GRP also failed to free us from the violence of their own armed forces. We still live in fear and we are defenceless.
The NPA’s lifting of its ceasefire proves that the civil war may only end when the root causes of the armed conflict is sincerely addressed and resolved. With the war mongers in the AFP, the people are bound to resist any form of oppression.
We, SANDUGO will continue to resist national oppression and defend our right to our ancestral lands and self-determination. ###