Tell it to SunStar: Selling ancestral lands to foreign investors

FOLLOWING the forced evacuation of 121 Lumad families in 12 communities of Lianga and San Agustin, Surigao del Sur due to the intensifying military operations, President Rodrigo Duterte told Lumad leaders in a gathering inside the Eastern Mindanao Command headquarters that he will open Lumad lands to investors and that they soon need to evacuate.

Taking us, the national minorities, away from our lands is taking away our identity and our existence – thus it will lead to genocide. Many of our ancestors, indigenous peoples (IP) leaders and kin were killed to silence the people and allow the entry of mining corporations and those in logging and the setting up of plantations inside the protected lands.

In fact, 30 Lumads have been killed under the Duterte regime and at least 30,000 were forcible evacuated due to aerial bombings to pave way for the entry of foreign corporations and big local businesses.

President Duterte even tried to make an excuse by saying, “Ang gobyerno naningkamot...karon gitagaan mo og ancestral domain. Ang problema wala ninyo gamita.” But first, it is not the government that spilled blood so the IPs will have their ancestral lands. It is their forefathers’ blood and the blood of the leaders that were sacrificed so that the government, or at least Philippine laws, would recognize their right to the ancestral lands.

Secondly, they have cultivated their lands for these to be productive and in order o feed their communities and secure the future of the children by building their own schools, which President Duterte threatened to bomb.

Yes, we will continue make trouble – by defending our ancestral lands and territories. We will continue to resist the intrusion of foreign investors and projects and oppose the US-Duterte’s charter change.

A true government of the people will do all in its power to protect those who are less in life. This US puppet regime is instead protecting the interest and profit of those already wealthy at the expense of the marginalized such as us the national minorities.

President Duterte is running out of reason to lead the Filipino nation.--Datu Jerome Succor Aba, co-chairperson of Sandugo-–Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-determination
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