Lumads air demands

LUMAD evacuees at UCCP Haran aired their eight demands to the officials of Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) who visited them at the shelter last Tuesday and had vowed to offer them free legal assistance.

Pasaka secretary general Jong Monzon, who is a lumad, expressed and laid down their concerns to IBP President Rosario Sietas Reyes who was accompanied by Central Luzon IBP Governor lawyer Jose Dela Rama, IBP Eastern Mindanao Governor lawyer Caesar Europa, and lawyer Dinah Fuentes.

Some of their demands involve the arrest and prosecution of all perpetrators of human rights violations whom they identified as members of the military and paramilitary forces, stop military encampments in lumad schools and communities, disband and disarm all paramilitary groups allegedly organized, armed, and maintained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Pull-out AFP troops in their respective schools and communities, drop trumped-up charges filed against lumad leaders and their support groups, indemnify, rehabilitate, and rebuild Lumad and peasant schools, among others.

They also seek the removal of North Cotabato Representative Nancy Catamco as chairperson of the House Committee on the National Cultural Communities and Indigenous People for allegedly “ordering the July 23 attack of the Haran evacuation and misrepresent[ing] the lumad people.”

Monzon also expressed their desire to stop vilification or red-tagging of their schools and communities.

It was reported on Thursday that there are still over 500 lumad evacuees who are left at the Haran compound after after some 300 lumad evacuees finally left their temporary shelters to welcome the New Year, after they received reports that military troops camping in their communities had left the area.

However, Monzon said that they are still keeping their watch as military troops may return to their communities.

It was also reported that the IBP offered to give free legal assistance to the lumads who are facing trumped up charges for airing their demands for the pull out of the military and paramilitary forces in their communities whose presence they claimed are causing them troubles.

The IBP visit at the Haran evacuation was part of the promise they had given to the lumads who had embarked on a March protest called Manilakbayan last October to air the issues of human rights violations and militarization in their communities.
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