Letter to the Editor: UCCP Haran violates Covid-19 health protocol

IN RESPONSE to the statement recently issued by Pasaka-SMR and other so-called concerned IP groups regarding the issue on the death of two infants at the UCCP Haran, we, the community of Barangay 8-A, Madapo, express our formidable dismay in repeated lies and massive cover-up to the real situation inside the premises of UCCP Haran.

For so many years that UCCP Haran, backed by self-proclaimed pro-IP groups, housed these innocent Lumad who were displaced and have them taken away from their communities. These groups have not taken into consideration of consulting us, or even conducted dialogue if we conform to the sheltering of the Lumad, knowing that they are not even residents of Davao City.

As a tight-knit community, the presence of hundreds of Lumad, added additional burden knowing that we are forced to be silenced by UCCP Haran higher-ups, even with our curious minds as to why they persistently stay, not only for months but already for so many years.

Even so, they claim that these poor IPs were allegedly attacked by military and paramilitary groups. Honestly, our community thinks this is a clear and lame excuse to just get their way to attack the good governance of genuine public servants by using the impoverished and “uneducated” Lumad to lure them inside UCCP Haran for their own benefit.

The death of these poor and innocent infants, not knowing of the harsh environment they had to endure while staying in the clandestine dwelling of UCCP Haran, were kept a brutal secret. If it was painful for them, it is more painful for us, knowing that we work so hard in protecting our lives, protecting the future of our children from the damaging effects of the virus.

On the other hand, it is more alarming for us that even our barangay officials cannot get a hand to investigate the real situation at the UCCP Haran because the higher-ups at the UCCP Haran prevent them to do so. Yes, the results are not even out, just so, we cannot discount the possibility these deaths make it more susceptible to communicable diseases, something that is beyond our sane minds.

By still restraining the Lumad inside the vicinity of Haran, Pasaka-SMR and other groups are causing fear and havoc not knowing the true health situation of the Lumad. What do we know? Pasaka-SMR along with other groups supporting the organization should also feel empathy for us, for the place we call “home” for so many years. Our community may be small and humble, but we are mustering courage to even fight for our dwelling, to fight for our lives, even if we are silenced by groups, even if we are constantly threatened and the imminent danger might be more than just the existence of the lumad, the linked groups and administrators of Pasaka-SMR.

Even our barangay officials whom we personally witnessed to have exhausted efforts to protect our humble community have already feared for their security and safety. The recent invitation letter from UCCP Haran addressed to our barangay captain which was signed by Bishop Hamuel Tequis had asked for inquiry on news spread on the death of two infants which might be associated with the coronavirus disease 2019.

Apparently, this did not sit well with the bishop, as he himself was fully aware and alarmed by the news spread to the community. Yet, their letter though it may seem innocent at first glance, it was written in a careful yet authoritative manner obliging our lowly barangay captain to report to this Bishop and asking him forcefully to the brink of threatening our barangay captain where the information came from and even ordering our barangay captain around to find out who leaked the information on the death of two infants. And if it is not found out, the Bishop said he will be forced to report to the so-called “core-group” on which heaven knows what the Bishop is referring to.

We call out to the Pasaka-SMR and UCCP Haran administrators, not only the community is afraid of the apparent threats to cover up the truth, but even the government officials who only wanted to genuinely serve, are being tied in a leash of distress by these groups.

Our small community, though struggling, has already gotten through over everyday lives and adjusted on the life of long-term community quarantine. But we are more than happy to oblige for this is for our own good. On the other hand, a big violation of Covid-19 health protocol and Bayanihan We Heal as One Act on Pasaka-SMR’s part by not disclosing the death of two infants under their tutelage and apparently taking the matter into their own hands without informing our community putting us at great risk.

Hence, our communities living near the UCCP Haran premises strongly condemn the presence of Lumad currently sheltered inside the UCCP Haran and plead to make them go back to their respective communities while there is still ample time. We understand their present situation but please, there is still US, the residents who value the community we invested for so many years. We care about our future, our children’s future, struggling to avoid this coronavirus disease. We do not want to add another death on our doorsteps. So please, open the gates and set the Lumad free, back to their communities. The coronavirus disease is a silent enemy that knows no ethnicity, race, status, education background. Anyone can be a victim by this deadly pandemic. It is time for us to stop and it has to begin with us. (Jasmine Formon)


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