Church, IP groups decry human rights abuses in Mindanao

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QUEZON City, Nov. 27, 2014—An ecumenical alliance recently joined forces with Manilakbayan, a group of some 300 Lumads from Mindanao, in a bid to bring to the attention of the national government the various issues of “gross human rights violations” affecting their communities.

“As the Lakbayanis arrived in Manila, we come in unison with their call for Food and Peace in MindaNow! We likewise demand for the immediate pull-out of military troops,” said Nardy Sabino, executive secretary of the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR).

Concerned citizens and IPs protest against paramilitary exercises in Mindanao and other parts of the country, decrying the rise in human rights violations. (Photo: PCPR)

No justice

“We are aware that the next frontier for extractive economies such as mining and plantations is in the various regions of Mindanao. This is the glaring fact with the Aquino government pulling military troops from Luzon and ARMM [Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao] designating them in areas rich of natural mineral resources and fertile agricultural lands,” he stated.

With 55 battalions (about 50,000 soldiers) operating in Mindanao, besides alleged paramilitary activities, PCPR raises concern on the rise in cases of human rights violations.

“We have had our day of impunity under the Aquino administration. Many of the victims fell under a suspected state agent defending their right to livelihood, land and dwelling. A number of human rights defenders from the church are not spared,” Sabino noted.

According to him, the extra-judicial killings of Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio and Bukidnon village chief Jimmy Liguyon remain unresolved.

Sabino lamented that the current economic system worships Mammon, the god of profit.

‘Depleted natural resources’

“Local and foreign corporations have employed private armies that wreak havoc in our communities. Our government has turned a blind eye to these atrocities if not guilty of connivance in the name of kickbacks and pay cheques. We are left with depleted natural resources from utter disregard to environmental protection and sustainability,” he said.

Sabino called attention to a “community of homeless and abandoned from massive displacement, disruption of livelihood, and access to education” due to intense militarization and clearing operations.

“We are witnesses to the lamentations of the poor, deprived and marginalized in their defense for ancestral domain, life and dignity,” he stated.

Sabino stressed the need to tell the public about the human rights situation and the struggles of the Mindanaoan people for genuine development.

“Our stand to journey and lend our voices to the cries of the poor is giving flesh to the greatest commandment of loving God and our neighbors,” he added. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCPNews)

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