GINGOOG City, Misamis Oriental, Aug. 14, 2015—The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) along with its Northern Mindanao subregion (NMR) demands the “unconditional release” of its former volunteer teacher, Daniel Lampusay, and his brother Ejun, who they assert were illegally arrested and detained by the military.
“We denounce the gross violation of the basic rights of Lampusay brothers by the elements of the 58th Infantry Battalion. This is another desperate measure of the military to threaten the Lumad community in the area,” said Sr. Francis Añover, RMP National Coordinator in a statement.
RMP–NMR reported that the Lampusay brothers, 22 and 18 years old, respectively, were first held on Aug. 3 at the local daycare center of Barangay Hindangan in Gingoog City, which the military forces used as a detachment.
The group said they were transferred first to the police station in Medina, but are now detained at the Misamis Oriental Provincial Jail.
According to the group, the spate of human rights abuses is part of the ongoing attacks on the local Lumad communities as well as on the alternative learning schools in Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao , Socsargen, and Caraga regions they have initiated.
RMP lamented that the said educational centers have been tagged by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as “Communist-led schools” whose teachers and students complain about experiencing harassment due to continuing military operations in the area.
“It is lamentable that the military accuses them as members of the New Peoples’ Army when they are deeply impoverished as farm workers in a coconut grove in the same sitio. We, as missionaries know the plight of the rural poor and their aspiration only is the upliftment of their family from poverty and starvation,” Añover explained.
“We demand their immediate and unconditional release, as our Holy Father Pope Francis opposed inequality as stated in his apostolic exhortation ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ Joy of the Gospel). We hope the military heed the Holy Father’s call to touch their hearts and empathize [with] the rural poor indigenous people’s plight ,” Añover added.
A teacher, the elder Lampusay used to volunteer for RMP-NMR’s Literacy -Numeracy program.
The siblings are Higaonon residents of Sitio Minalwang in Barangay Bal-ason, Gingoog City. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)