THE Aquino administration and 24 militia groups armed by the military are the ones to blame for the violations of the human rights of indigenous people in Mindanao, called the lumad, according to a group of tribal leaders who have been lobbying for an end to the rights violations.
Kerlan Fanagel, one of the leaders of the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao, made the accusation after United Nations country representative and humanitarian coordinator Ola Almgren called for an end to the rights violations and the comprehensive implementation of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act.
“President Aquino has a lot to answer to the UN for most of the policies he issued under his term have brought a long list of human rights violations to the lumad people. Hence we call him as the main perpetrator of lumad killings,” Fanagel said.
“These kind of policies have targeted the lumad because of our continuing resistance against the plunder of our resources. As long as the Philippine government prioritizes the needs of foreign companies over the needs of the lumad people then the killing of lumad will never stop,” he added.
Fanagel lauded Algrem’s statement because it supports the call for justice of the oppressed lumad.
“We laud UN Country Representative Algrem for putting forward these measures. We also hope that the UN country representative can pressure President BS Aquino and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to pull-out military troops in the community as this is one of the primary reasons why there are continuing killings, harassments and displacement of lumad,” said Fanagel.
He added that the UN humanitarian coordinator should also look into reports pointing to the Armed Forces of the Philippines as the one behind the lumad killings and the coddling of paramilitaries responsible for the lumad killings.
Fanagel said that the paramilitary groups backed by the AFP were the perpetrators of 63 lumad killings under the Aquino administration and 24 paramilitary groups have been reportedly armed and funded by different military battalions in Mindanao.
Fanagel also commends and agrees with the UN on the resumption of peace-talks between the government and the left-leaning rebels, as this would tackle and solve issues faced by the lumad, indigenous people and whole of the country’s socio-economic problems.
“It will be shameful for Aquino to disregard this call, especially now that even the United Nations has joined to pressure the government to act. This also has proven the calls of lumad who held a month-long protest in Metro Manila are justified,” Fanagel said.