MARTIAL law in Mindanao is over. And so the local authorities cannot barge-in to Haran compound to seize a property or arrest a person by mere presumption that there is a criminal offense committed inside, unless a competent court orders to do so.
Since 2015 the Haran, managed by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) in Father Selga Street has been an asylum of the indigenous peoples (IPs) from Davao del Norte, Agusan, Bukidnon, and Cotabato provinces.
The lumads who were displaced from their ancestral domain sought shelter in Haran for fear to be caught in between the continuing warfare of the government forces and the new people’s army.
Since then, Haran has been an eye sore to the authorities as a competitor like “what has the government been doing to the evacuees?”
Imagine an evacuation center since 2015 operated by a religious organization in a highly adored metro Davao, sheltering and feeding hundreds of IPs that were displaced from the war zone, and made known worldwide. What a shame!
In an effort to close Haran, tales came from all directions that Haran exploited the IPs by way of sending their pictures with piteous captions to foreign counterparts if only to rake-in financial support.
If the narratives are true that the set-up magnets huge foreign funding, then the authorities must investigate how the story was told and to what extent does the exploitation harmed the IPs and LGUs reputation, if there is, of course with fail-safe proofs.
By the way, being a non-stock and non-profit mission, the management of Haran cannot refuse donations or love offerings if only to support the evacuees.
In so far as all media of communications is concern, none of the evacuees ventilates a complaint for neglect, exploitation or abuse inside Haran. The camp is generally peaceful and not even a petty crime of stealing a pair of slippers was reported to the authorities.
On the other hand, the authorities can fabricate stories if they want. They claimed they received reports from undisclosed sources that the lumad in Haran were taught of subversive ideologies against the government.
At the very least, the authorities held this card as ground for closure. Even DILG-Davao director Alex Roldan admitted to media that part of the basis for the closure is that the evacuation center is not accessible for the government agencies. This bothers me, how did the authorities get stories from the inside when it is not accessible?
If getting inside is the challenge the local government is facing, then closure of this missionary facility would not be the solution, neither a forcible entry to a religious ground. Doing so, will exasperate the IPs prejudices to the government and its military.
Without flexing muscle, the local government can invite Haran administrators to a table of compassion and offer them once again that the government agencies exist for the welfare of its people.