February 11, 2018
QUEZON CITY – “Maaring naghihirap ang mga Lumad, pero hindi nila kultura ang maging bayaran, lalo’t hindi ang pumatay!” Jerome Succor Aba, co-chairperson of Sandugo (Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination) said today in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer to the Lumad of P20,000 for every NPA they kill.
“President Duterte’s offer to recruit and train the Lumad to be members of the Civilian Auxiliary Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and kill members of the NPA for money is the height of his desperation to eliminate the insurgency in Mindanao,” Aba said. “This only means that his soldiers with all the new equipment, overflowing funds and the tacit support of the United States military, could not suppress of the intensifying civil war especially in Mindanao. Pres. Duterte has to resort to bribery to gain the support of the Lumad or forcebly recruit them to kill for him,” Aba said.
“The Lumad survived centuries without much need of cash but by developing the land and resources in their ancestral territories. Their deep sense of community and identity impel them to protect themselves from outsiders who want to plunder their lands. By trying to divide and pit them against each other through military training and offer of money to kill is simply bastardization of their culture. Pres. Duterte reeks of the worst discrimination against the Lumad,” Aba said.
“Many of the Lumad leaders, who were previously offered large sums of money to allow private corporations into their ancestral lands, were killed by CAFGUs or paramilitary groups after they refused the offer,” Aba said. He cited the case of Datu Jimmy Liguyon who was killed in 2012 by paramilitary leader Alde Salusad. In 2016, Salusad led his group, the New Indigenous People’s Army for Reform (NIPAR) that killed a pregnant woman and wounded five children in San Fernando, Bukidnon.
Aba also mentioned the infamous Lianga massacre on September 1, 2015 where Datu Juvello Sinzo, Lumad school director Emerito Samarca and Lumad leader Dionel Campos were murdered by the paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani led by Bobby Tejero and Loloy Tejero and elements of the 36th Infantry Battalion.
“The list goes on of the Lumad getting killed by their fellow Lumad who were trained, brainwashed and paid by the Philippine military and the government,” Aba said. “President Duterte’s offer to kill for money will further embolden the paramilitary groups, CAFGU and the Philippine military to kill anyone they label as NPA” Aba said.
“This is also the case of the Capion massacre,” Aba said. On October 18, 2012, elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion and members of the CAFGU strafed the hut of the Capion family and killed the mother, Juvy who was pregnant and her two sons, Jordan, 13, and John Mark, 8. The father, Daguil Capion then led his community against the entry of mining in their ancestral lands. The AFP later announced it was a legitimate NPA-AFP encounter. The massacre exposed the Task Force KiTaCo (Kiblawan, Tampakan, Columbio) as a special unit created by the Philippine Army to protect SMI-Xstrata’s mining interest in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
“The Lumad communities and their leaders do not need the money offered by Pres. Duterte but the respect of their right to their ancestral lands and resources that they can develop for the coming generations. Duterte can offer a bigger amount but the Lumad will always reject this and continue to defend their ancestral lands even if it takes to be labelled as NPAs and be killed by their own corrupted and trained to be mercenaries by the AFP and Pres. Duterte,” Aba said. “This same corrupted line of thought and prejudice against the Lumad by the US puppet and fascist Pres. Duterte will only lead to further intensification of the legitimate resistance of the Lumad and the Filipino masses. His only way out of this social conflict is to pursue the peace talks and address the roots of the on-going armed conflict,” Aba concluded.