MANILA, Sept. 23, 2015— Some Lumad students brought their plight to Pope Francis, and asked his help so they can go back in peace to their village.
On Tuesday, the students went to the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila on Tuesday to hand over a letter for the Pope.
Among them were Rachel Libora and Michelle Campos, whose father Dionel, were among those killed by a militia group in a hinter village in Surigao del Sur on Sept. 1.
“They were killed mercilessly. Right in front of their loved ones,” Campos said.
“I can’t understand why they they killed my father who only wanted to help our tribespeople and to develop the land of our forefathers,” she said.
The two traveled arrived in Manila last week for week-long lobbying with different government agencies to seek justice for the victims.
Libora believes that the Pope can help them “because he has a deep, genuine concern for the poor.”
She said they particularly want the pontiff to give attention to the plight of thousands of Lumad children who are caught amid “massive militarization” of indigenous communities in Mindanao.
“We just want to go back to our village. We want to go back to our school and study again,” Libora said.
Threats of a massacre
According to her, they will remain under the threat of murder and even massacres if the government will not dismantle the paramilitary group.
“Peace in our community is impossible until the paramilitary group is there,” she added.
About 580 families or 2,800 fled their homes following the brutal killing of the tribal leaders since early September.
For almost a month now, they have been languishing in a sports complex in Tandag City since early this month.
Local officials said the number of Lumad refugees getting sick who are mostly children, women and elderly continues to rise inside the evacuation centers.
Among the common illnesses include cough, fever, and diarrhea. (R. Lagarde / CBCPNews)