‘Lumad’ group hits AFP’s denial of blocking food from evacuees
An indigenous peoples (IP) rights group slammed as “fake news” the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) denial that soldiers have been blocking food and aid for evacuees in a village in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.
In a statement on Sunday, Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sumusunod (Mapasu or the Persevering Struggle for the Next Generation) condemned the statements of AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla.
“What do you call controlling the entry of food, is it not food blockade? Since November 26 until December 8, within 13 days, each family subsisted on 10 kilos of rice for food. You really want to kill us of hunger,” the group said in a statement.
In a briefing last Dec. 8., Padilla belied reports that military have been blocking aid to around a thousand people who fled from the clash between government troops and the New People’s Army (NPA).
According to Padilla, the military is just there to provide security and all aid to the internally displaced persons goes to the local government.
But according to Mapasu, Alternative Learning Center For Agricultural and Livelihood Development Incorporated (Alcadev) and Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights, last Nov. 28, the 75th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA) manning the checkpoint in Km. 6 Neptune allegedly controlled the entry and exit of people and food.
“The Assistance and Cooperation for Resilience and Development Inc. (ACCORD) and Friends of the Lumad in Caraga (FLC) brought 10 sacks of rice because the 1 kilo per family given by the Municipal Social Welfare Department (MSWD) was insufficient,” the organization said.
“You denied them entry. You allowed the MSWD to come but they were only able to bring 5 sacks. There are 265 families with 1, 531 individuals, not including the 168 students and 60 para teachers of TRIFPSS (Teachers from Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur) and ALCADEV; this was why only a kilo of rice per family was divided among us,” it added.
In the same briefing, the AFP spokesperson also pointed out that most members of the NPA are Lumad.
But the groups maintained their stance and decried AFP’s branding that they are NPA members.
“What wrong have we committed that you continue to persecute us Lumad? We who have long been forgotten by the government, deprived of social services, the reason why our elders never knew how to read and write thus were easily deceived,” it said.
“We who are constantly driven away from our ancestral lands because you want to clear all resistance to the entry of logging companies in the past and now coal,” it added.
Earlier, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago filed resolution number 1056 urging the House of Representatives human rights panel to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the reported food blockade. /je
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