Pres. Duterte: Enemy of the Bangsamoro and indigenous peoples

It is time to answer for your crimes, President Duterte. Your crimes against us, the national minorities – the Bangsamoro and indigenous peoples – are already piling up.

For declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines  (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorists,  we further became targets of Oplan Kapayapaan, a combination of the deceptive and brutal counter-insurgency programs Bantay Laya of Gloria Arroyo and Bayanihan of BS Aquino. Thus came the worst attack against the indigenous people – the massacre of eight Lumad of  the T’boli and Dulangan Manobo tribes by the 27th and 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB) on the afternoon of December 3.

For terminating the peace talks with the NDFP,  thus came the forcible evacuation of more than 2,000 Lumad of Lianga and San Agustin of Surigao del Sur. Our children, who are  supposed to be in schools  are now in evacuation centers suffering and endure hunger due to the imposed food blockade of the 75th IB.

For treating the AFP and PNP as spoiled brats and giving in to their every whim,  Pres. Duterte whole heartedly increased their budget  and in effect supports more paramilitary troops.  This  led to the killing of a bright and promising Lumad youth, Obello Bay-a  by a member of  the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Units (CAFGU). Obello was  a student of  Salupungan Community Learning School in Talaingod, Davao del Norte before classes were suspended due to militarization after Pres. Duterte threatened to bomb Lumad schools.

For declaring and extending martial law in Mindanao, half a million Mindanawons have forcibly evacuated due to AFP’s aerial strikes and military operations in both Moro and Lumad communities. Most  came from Marawi who lost their homes and livelihood. Thousands endure congestion and limited access to utilities and services in evacuation centers.  At least a thousand Meranaws are still unaccounted for after the siege.

Martial law in Mindanao has led to mass arrests.  Such is the case of Julito Otacan, a  2017 Lakbayani of the Banwaon tribe in Brgy. Balit, San Luis, Agusan del Sur. He was illegally arrested with Alejandro Barluado, Jonas Acosta, Noli Tahudan, Marlon Talatayod, and Joel Trasona by the 26th Infantry Battalion.  They now face false charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.  In CARAGA region alone, 260 individuals mostly community leaders, face trumped up cases filed by AFP and are threatened to be arrested and jailed.

In the just concluded ASEAN Summit,  Pres. Duterte fully exposed himself  as a US lackey and willingly gave up our sovereignty to an equal tyrant US President Donald Trump. Pres. Duterte showed the world how he licked the US’ boots for military and economic support. Right after meeting with US Pres. Trump, Pres. Duterte made a turn-around and ended the peace talks with the NDFP and threatened to crack down all progressive organizations.  The fifth round of peace talks was set to resume and significant agreements have been reached on socio-economic reforms specifically agrarian reform and national industrialization and development,  basic issues to address the root cause of the armed conflict, but Pres. Duterte signs Proclamation 360.

His order to the AFP to ‘flatten the hills,’  not only sowed fear  in our communities but is a real terror as bombs were dropped on us. On September 6, members of the 84th Infantry Battalion bombed  communities in Kasibu, Nueva Viscaya that led to the evacuation of 133 families from barangays of Kakiduguen, Dine, and Biyoy.  Other IP communities were also bombed in Abra, Mindoro, Saranggani and Compostela Valley. But the most destructive result of this order was the indiscriminate bombing of Marawi.

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, who once promised change and declared himself an ally of the people, has  revealed himself  to be the enemy of the people, protector of the oligarchs and a puppet to US imperialism. For all his crimes, not just against the national minorities but also on the rest of the Filipino nation, we will continue to struggle to defend our rights and life and exact just retribution at the most opportune time.#

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