THE Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed alarm on the alleged attack perpetrated by Indigenous People (IP) at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran Compound, which has been housing hundreds of displaced Lumad.
CHR spokesperson Lawyer Jacqueline de Guia, in a statement Tuesday, January 28, expressed her concern on the closure order against UCCP Haran housing the Lumad and the alleged attack of bolo-wielding “paramilitary group” on Saturday, January 25.
The compound is housing 500 distressed evacuees including 236 children and infants.
“In light of the growing trend of red-tagging of groups that stand with the plight of the vulnerable sectors, we reiterate our reminder against such labels that pose threats and attacks to groups and communities. In times of conflict, churches are zones of peace,” De Guia said.
The incident developed after a resolution was passed by the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) Davao ordering the immediate closure of the UCCP Haran, citing alleged violations committed inside the shelter.
The allegations included child abuse, serious illegal detention offenses while engaging in human trafficking, and “various terroristic activities.”
The commission has urged the government to look after the condition of the Lumad who are taking refuge inside the UCCP Haran to ensure the “children’s rights to life, survival, development, education, and to be with their families need to be guaranteed at all times.”
“In any assertions of the government, the need to ensure the best interest and welfare of the children must be given utmost priority and consideration. Being displaced from their ancestral lands, they are still recovering from the toll of disruption and conflict,” she added.
De Guia also urged the government to hold a dialogue with the indigenous people’s group constantly to provide a durable solution that will tackle the roots of their grievances and demonstrate genuine compassion and empathy in their struggles.
A quick response team from CHR Davao has been deployed to conduct an investigation on the alleged attack inside the compound.
Police Regional Office (PRO) Davao spokesperson Major Eudisan Gultiano said Tuesday that the UCCP Haran administrators refused to have a dialogue with the local authorities amid looming closure because of unresolved issues.
“Apparently, sumulat na sila kay Vice Mayor (Sebastian Duterte) informing him na wala na silang balak makipag-dialogue. Dahil di naman daw kaya matugunan (ang) kanilang panawagan katulad ng i-pull-out ang militar at ituloy ang Salugpongan,” Gultiano said.
Duterte went to the area on Saturday to tone down the tension through a dialogue with the leaders of UCCP Haran to settle the issue.
Gultiano said they are just waiting for the directive of PRO Davao regional director Filmore Escobal on the next move. A case build-up is on the process to determine the violations of people behind the UCCP Haran.