Faith groups form network to protect Lumads

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A Lumad elder (Photo: Raymond A. Sebastián)

MANILA, Dec. 11, 2015— Various religious groups figuratively join hands to protect the rights of indigenous tribes in Southern Philippines by forming a nationwide network to advance their advocacy.

Launched in Cagayan de Oro City on Wednesday, the “Higala sa Lumad (Friends of the Lumads)” network seeks to monitor the current situation of the tribal communities.

The group, composed of individuals and various denominations, also aims to conduct quick response activities when needed.

Threats, intimidation

Project manager Sister Ma. Famita Somogod of the Missionary Sisters of Mary said more help is needed because Lumads continue to face harassment.

“I am glad that despite the attacks on the Lumad campaigns, many are still convinced that what we are fighting for is right,” Somogod said.

As a worker in Lumad communities for several years now, the nun amented that they themselves have experienced threats and intimidation.

One of the group’s components hopes to increase financial, material, and other forms of support for the protection and security of indigenous leaders and communities.

The network vowed to hold fact-finding missions, lobbying, legal support, and online campaigns among others.

‘Healing the Hurt’

“We’ve gathered over a hundred supporters not only from the Philippines but also from other countries the campaigns on indigenous peoples’ rights have reached,” said Atty. Czarina Golda Musni, a network member.

On Dec. 8, the project also inaugurated the Tagtabulon Cooperative at Brgy. Banglay, Langonglong, Misamis Oriental. Its members are from the Higaonon community in Sitios Camansi, Tapol, and Anahaw in Banglay.

The establishment of the cooperatives in indigenous communities is to give them financial capacity to address their needs even as they work on their campaigns.

The “Healing the Hurt” Project is also one with the Lumads in their fight for their right to their land, to self-determined development, and their right to continue their living traditions and culture.

The project is spearheaded by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Sub-Region, Inc. and is supported by the European Union through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. (CBCP News)

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