Bayan: CHR turning blind eye to AFP’s responsibility over ‘lumad’ deaths
Militant umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan hit the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for allegedly detaching the Armed Forces of the Philippines from its supposed responsibility on the deaths of the “lumads” or indigenous people in Mindanao.
In a statement, Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes said that the human rights body should probe AFP’s “Oplan Bayanihan,” the government’s anti-insurgency program, which made the lumad as one of its targets.
“The problem with the Commission on Human Rights report on [lumad] killings is that it tends to obscure or mitigate the ultimate responsibility of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Aquino regime in the systematic violations of the rights of the [lumad]. It wittingly or unwittingly diminishes the impact of the government counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan in the targeting of [lumad] communities. It portrays the [lumad] as being caught between the two sides of the armed conflict, when in fact the [lumad] have themselves become the targets of the AFP’s counter-insurgency drive,” Reyes said.
“The CHR should point out that under this counter-insurgency campaign, it is the AFP who is responsible for gross human rights violations against the [lumad], including the displacement of thousands who are now in evacuation centers in different regions in Mindanao,” he added.
Reyes issued the statement as a response to the claim of the CHR which said that both the New People’s Army and the AFP are recruiting lumad as combatants.
The CHR said that from 2001 to September 2015, 59 members of the lumad community in Mindanao were involved in 35 cases of extrajudicial killings.
“Of these, 10 cases were allegedly perpetrated by the AFP, while eight cases were attributed to the NPA. Thus, neither side can claim to have the moral high ground to attribute excesses on the other,” the CHR said–the first time that the commission recognized the role of the military in the lumad deaths.
But Reyes said that lumad are joining the NPA because they are being subjected to abuse, plunder and the militarization of their communities.
“That the [lumad] join the NPA is not by itself the problem. It is merely the result of the continuing plunder and abuses committed against the [lumad]. That is why there are peace talks, to address the root causes of the armed conflict; to address why the [lumad] join the NPA. Will militarizing [lumad] communities stop them from joining the NPA? History has taught us otherwise,” he said.
Hundreds of lumad are currently in the Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila in the hopes of making their demands known to the national government. CDG
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.