National minorities want martial law lifted and end to all-out war before peace talks

Reacting on Pres. Duterte’s overtures for the continuation of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), members of Sandugo challenged the regime to first end the all-out war policy and the martial law in Mindanao before the talks start.

“We welcome the resumption of the peace talks, but the regime’s killing spree against the Bangsamoro and indigenous peoples must first stop. We are being killed, harassed, falsely charged with criminal offenses, illegally arrested and detained,” said Jerome Succcor Aba, co-chairperson of Sandugo. All these, he said, violates the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

Aba cited the case of the latest victim of killings among the indigenous peoples, Obello Bay-ao, who was killed by members of the Alamara/CAFGU paramilitary groups. He also lamented the death of a 74-year old political prisoner Marcos Aggalao, a veteran of the anti-Chico Dam struggle of the Cordillera peoples during the Marcos dictatorship.

“Madaya (deceptive). The Duterte regime wants ceasefire but it continues to attack our communities. The military operations in our communities never stopped,” Aba added.

Sandugo criticized Pres. Duterte for insisting on a ceasefire agreement with the NDFP ahead of the agreement on social and economic reforms that includes guarantees on the rights of the national minorities to their ancestral lands and territories. “Ceasefires don’t work. We want immediate reforms and that can be achieved if an agreement on social and economic reforms is signed. The encroachment of plunderers in our territories and ancestral lands is unstoppable,” said Aba.

Aba said Duterte’s war against the national minorities and the poor majority of the people does not address the root causes of the armed conflict but only adds fuel to the ongoing people’s war. They are further burdened by the entry of foreign monopoly capitalist corporations, endorsed by government and a fascist military, encroaching on their territory and ancestral lands. ###

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