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Tagle: We’re all to blame for lumad’s plight

/ 01:05 AM November 12, 2015
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle converses with representatives of the lumad tribe camping out at the Liwasang Bonifacio. SCREENGRAB FROM RENATO REYES' TWITTER ACCOUNT

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle converses with representatives of the lumad tribe camping out at the Liwasang Bonifacio. SCREENGRAB FROM RENATO REYES’ TWITTER ACCOUNT

Everyone’s at fault.

Thus declared Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle as he called on everyone, particularly the military and the National Democratic Front (NDF), to leave the lumad in peace and to work together to help all those displaced by the ongoing violence in Mindanao recover.

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“We’re all to blame for what’s happening to our lumad brethren in Mindanao,” Tagle said in a statement after visiting the lumad makeshift camp at the Liwasang Bonifacio.

Tagle described the indigenous people’s plight as very depressing and alarming.

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He particularly highlighted how the violence between the military and members of the NDF had left many lumad dead and displaced, among others.

“What is happening to our indigenous brothers in Mindanao is very depressing and alarming. Some of them have died or were killed. Many were forced to evacuate and abandon their homes and their ancestral lands,” Tagle said.

“They lost their livelihood. Their children stopped schooling. The elderly, the sick, the children and women suffered even more. The environment was damaged. What is prevailing is chaos, violence, injustice and lack of peace and order in their communities, ” he added.

In a statement written in Filipino which he read in front of the lumad, Tagle called on the government to pull out its military forces from lumad communities and disband and disarm all paramilitary groups.

He also urged both the military and the NDF to declare the home of the lumad in Mindanao as “peace zones.”

“We are calling on both the military and the NDF to leave the lands of our lumad brothers as ‘peace zones,’” Tagle said.

The lumad have been camping out since Nov. 2 to push their demand to keep the military out of their lands, and to bring their plea closer to concerned authorities in Manila. They’re scheduled to leave the park today after the city government barred them from holding their protest there until Nov. 22.

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Tagle went to the park at around 6 a.m. Wednesday to express solidarity with the indigenous people in behalf of Archdiocese of Manila and other Church leaders.

The prelate added his voice to the indigenous people’s demand for the prosecution and conviction of those responsible for the murders of lumad leaders.

Tagle walked around the camp and shook hands with the lumad leaders. He also gave them food packs consisting of rice, hotdog, boiled egg and bottled water.

In return, the lumad gave Tagle a “tubaw”—a handwoven head dress worn by indigenous people in Mindanao—as a symbol of gratitude.

The lumad said that while they were surprised by the visit, they felt very happy that the cardinal took time to see them.

The indigenous people, some 700 of them, participated in the Manilakbayan 2015, a long trek from Mindanao to Manila in a bid to get government to act on their plight.

The Manila archbishop had a talk with Bai Bibyaon Ligkayan Bigkay, woman tribal chieftain of Pantaron Manobo. Bai Bibyaon expressed her gratitude for the support of the church leader.

“With the intensified militarization in our communities, it’s as if the military and the government wants to eradicate us from the map. As one of the church leaders, we share with you the responsibility to call for the pull out of military troops from our communities,” Bai Bibyaon said. Aie Balagtas See and Tina G. Santos

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TAGS: lumad killings, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, Nation, National Democratic Front, News
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