Stop Oplan Bayanihan

ORGANIZED groups of indigenous people in Mindanao called on the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFPs) to stop Oplan Bayanihan, claiming the government's anti-insurgency has caused human rights violations against lumads.

Kalumaran secretary general Dulphing Ogan, in a statement sent to Sun.Star Davao, said this was the call of over 500 IP leaders during the 3rd Kalumaran assembly at Almacen in Catalunan Pequeño, Davao City on Friday.

"The assembly seeks to unite the various IP communities in Mindanao in their struggle to defend their ancestral lands from attacks under Oplan Bayanihan," Ogan said.

He also described the Army's Oplan Bayanihan as a tool that "allows foreign mining companies to pillage the natural resources" from what they claimed as their ancestral lands.

"All over Mindanao, wherever there are foreign mining plantations or mining companies, military encampments are always nearby. This results to numerous human rights violations, the perpetrators of which are state forces who to this day remain unpunished," Ogan said.

Bayan Muna Representative Karlos Zarate, who delivered the keynote speech during the conference, said: "In this situation where globalization and capitalism slowly swallow the little remaining dignity of indigenous peoples, it is time that we stand and unite to face our oppressors and assert what is rightful for us."

He also noted that IPs have been the victim of extrajudicial killings especially when they invoke their right to protest against the entry of foreign companies.

Religious group Sisters Association in Mindanao (Samin), meanwhile, supported call of the IPs.

"The plight of our indigenous brothers and sisters are being assaulted ever more fiercely in the face of military harassment, foreign investments, and toothless government policies. Yet in the midst of these grave offenses, the Lumads are also becoming stronger in their unity and assertion in the name of justice and peace," Samin executive secretary sister Noemi Degala said.

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