Editorial: Lumads need protection-A A +A
Saturday, September 15, 2012
WHILE President Benigno Aquino III was leading the launch of the "I am for Peace" campaign of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) in Malacanang, lumads in North Cotabato marched on the streets in Kidapawan City to denounce rebel atrocities in their communities.
For the protesters, not much has been done to protect them from the NPA wrath, prompting them to beg for President's help.
"We want to be protected. We deserve to live a peaceful life," tribal leader Datu Marcelino Damyog of the Manuvu tribe in Arakan, North Cotabato, said.
Since July, three tribal leaders have been executed by suspected NPA rebels and these alarmed the lumads in the area.
"For us, lumads in Mindanao, the position held by our leader is sacred. When you kill our leader, you desecrated his position," Damyog said.
At the Malacanang launch, Mr. Aquino rallied Filipinos to stand behind peace efforts, even as admitted communist insurgency has been "Our problem for 42 years."
"For more than four decades, there is still no final agreement between the government and the communist rebels," he said.
He went further by saying the peace efforts of the government are bearing fruit, saying encounters between the communist rebels and the government troops are declining during his term.
This maybe true if we based it on government data, but if you look deeper into what's happening in the hinterland communities in the country, truth will come out that villagers, especially lumads, in these areas still live in fear.
Damyog said when their leader, Datu Ansabo, was killed in July 17, it created fear among them. Also on that day, the rebels executed another tribal leader identified as Datu Cawsing.
There is an urgent need to look at these killings. Perpetrators have to answer for that.
If Mr. Aquino wants peace, he has to look also on what's happening on the ground and that needs political will.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 16, 2012.