Fight­ing for Lu­mads & rights be­yond

Sun.Star Davao - - OPINION - (

The cri­sis fac­ing both the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights and the Na­tional Com­mis­sion for the In­dige­nous Peo­ples is not just what hap­pened to their bru­tal­ized bud­get.

These in­sti­tu­tions, that on pa­per are meant to pro­tect hu­man rights and the Lu­mads re­spec­tively, have also a cri­sis of per­for­mance. Go ask the Min­danao Lu­mads.

For the past years go­ing way back to the Ar­royo and Aquino years, com­plaints were filed by Lu­mad lead­ers and teachers to the CHR of the abuses by the mil­i­tary and para­mil­i­tary, in­clud­ing the at­tacks on schools. Those com­plaints only gath­ered dust in the CHR desks and weren’t acted on or in­ves­ti­gated.

Just re­cently, the Lu­mad lead­ers who are at the Kam­puhan at UP Dil­i­man, faced CHR Chino Gas­con and did not mince words on their com­plaints.

“Daku kaayo among pagkadis­maya sa CHR kay sa pila ka tuig og daghan na kaayo mi og gi-file pero wala gi­hapon (We are very frus­trated with the CHR for they haven’t act on the many com­plaints we filed),” said Bai Eufemia Cul­la­mat, a Manobo from Suir­gao del Sur who de­manded jus­tice for the 2015 mur­ders of their two lead­ers and Al­cadev school di­rec­tor Emer­ito Sa­marca.

“The chil­dren said the CHR seem to doubt their tes­ti­monies. One of the in­ves­ti­ga­tors even asked: ‘Why do you al­ways blame the sol­diers? What about the NPAs?” Jong Mon­zon, spokesper­son of Pasaka Fed­er­a­tion pointed out to Gas­con about the CHR probe on cases of the Salug­pon­gan schools.

Gas­con was ac­tu­ally very apolo­getic that he promised to the Lu­mads that the CHR this time will dou­ble their ef­forts to work on the past com­plaints and the re­cent cases this year.

That is just the CHR. The is­sue on the NCIP is far worse. The book Un­der­stand­ing the Lu­mad: A Closer Look at a Mis­un­der­stood Cul­ture by Mang­gob Masi­nar­ing tack­led how ma­jor­ity of the Lu­mad com­mu­ni­ties are dis­ap­pointed on the NCIP for ma­nip­u­lat­ing the free and prior in­formed con­sent (FPIC) to al­low big com­pa­nies to en­croach their an­ces­tral lands. The book cited cases of the en­try of the hy­dro plant in the Bagobo land in Tu­daya, Santa Cruz, Davao del Sur and on how the NCIP formed its own tribal lead­ers in or­der to deal with log­ging com­pa­nies.

These and a hun­dred more com­plaints by Lu­mads on the NCIP ac­tu­ally have ba­sis to make even the pro­gres­sive law­mak­ers from the Mak­abayan bloc to slash their bud­get. For Mak­abayan and the Lu­mads, it is time to stop an of­fice that pro­motes “tribal deal­ers” rather than tribal lead­ers.

I con­sider the ef­forts of Gas­con and well-mean­ing staff in both the CHR and NCIP who want to turn these neg­a­tive im­pres­sions of their of­fices around. But this now comes late, as the pol­i­tics of Duterte over­runs the House and due process.

There are those who want to start a fund drive to save CHR and NCIP. But I think sup­port should go not to the of­fices, but rather di­rectly to the Lu­mads and rights vic­tims. The Lu­mads them­selves have shown in years how they fought for their rights with­out both in­sti­tu­tions sid­ing with them.

Sav­ing in­sti­tu­tions, for all its good in­tent, is not the right call. Save the Lu­mads and the Moro peo­ple. Stop the Wars are the more ur­gent calls.

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