Join call for justice for Lumad killings, bishops urged

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Demonstrators hold images of Lumad leaders killed in Mindanao during a protest outside the House of Representatives in Quezon City, 8 Sept. 2015. (Photo: RMP)

MANILA, Sept. 10, 2015— A Catholic organization called on the bishops to add their voice to the call for justice for the killing of three Lumads, an indigenous group, in Mindanao.

Quoting Pope Francis, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) said the Church must give “a voice to the cry of the poor.”

“It is our responsibility to help the rural poor, especially the Lumad peoples who are fighting for their lives and existence,” said Sr. Francis Añover, RMP national coordinator.

“We appeal to the good heart of the people, such as from the church sectors to join demand for justice for the Lumad victims and their struggle for life and rights to their ancestral lands,” she said.

The RMP is a national organization, inter-congregational and inter-diocesan in character, of women and men religious, priests and lay people.

READ: Killing of Lumads unjustifiable – nun 

Land grabbing

The group said the Lumad communities are being attacked by state forces because of their determination to protect their ancestral lands.

Añover said the Lumad people continue to be victims of massive land grabbing and displacement because of large-scale mining operations and the expansion of huge plantations.

“The Philippine Army and its para-military groups commit grave human rights abuses as clearing up operations for the entry of big foreign and local corporations,” she claimed.

Increasing human rights abuses

The RMP is also backing calls for the government to urgently investigate the death and displacement Lumads.

It particularly supports the House Resolution No. 2358, filed by lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc, which seeks to look into the murder of Manobo Lumad leader Dionel Campos, his cousin Aurelio Sinzo and Emerito Samarca, executive director of an alternative learning center for IPs.

“We reiterate our call for the justice of Samarca, Campos, Sinzo and other victims of human rights violations among Lumad peoples,” Añover said.

“It is certain that the rights abuses is escalating and worsening under a government’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan and justice is a long way before it will be served”, she added.

RMP believes that a Congressional investigation is crucial to to identify the perpetrators and put a stop to the attacks and killings of Lumads.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of IPs Victoria Tauli-Corpuz earlier said 100 Filipino tribesmen were killed defending their rights over the last three years. (R. Lagarde/CBCPNews)

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