Leave us alone, ‘lumad’ group tells AFP, NPA
A lumad group claiming to represent several tribes in Mindanao asked both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and New People’s Army on Friday not to drag them in the military and the rebel group’s respective propagandas.
“Leave us alone,” said Jimi Mansayagan, a datu of the Aromanon Manobo tribe and a member of Lumad Mindanao, which supposedly represented 33 tribes.
“Yung lumang sistema na divide and rule ay alive and kicking sa aming mga lumad,” he said.
Mansayagan said their people had been suffering.
“Kung may bakbakan ang AFP-NPA syempre magbakwit yung mga lumad. Yung mga ayaw magbakwit sinasabihan na supporter ng NPA. Yung nagbakwit naman takot bumalik kasi sasabihin informant (sila) ng military,” he said.
The military and its supposed paramilitary groups have been accused of killing lumad allegedly sympathizing with the NPA. But the AFP has also accused NPA of killing lumad who are in support of them.
“Ihinto na ang patayan. Ang baril ng military ang tatamaan lumad. Ang baril ng NPA ang tatamaan lumad,” Mansayagan said.
He said the lumad were being recruited by the AFP and NPA because of their knowledge of the terrain, and because they had “very cheap maintenance.”
“Sa bundok alam nila ang terrain, kahit zero visibility hindi sila mawawala,” he said.
A separate group of lumad from Mindanao trooped to Manila this week to call for an end to harassments and alleged militarization in the region.
But Mansayagan did not agree to this.
“Dapat hindi ito tinitignan as IP (indigenous peoples). Tignan kung sino ang nasa likod nila, kung one-sided, para maunawaan. Sino yung principal … Culturally hindi namin ginagawa makarating sa Maynila,” he said, adding that he did not have the same thoughts on the call for military pullout.
“Ang aming ancestral domain ay bahagi ng Philippine territory so may karapatan ang gobyerno na ilagay sila doon,” he said.
He also noted that both sides were committing human rights abuses but said there had been changes in the military unlike during martial law.
“Mahirap na idetalye pero ang masabi ko both sides are committing human rights violation,” Mansayagan said.
He likened their situation to being an owner of a house where visitors acted as if they lived there.