Members of the Indigenous Peoples (IP) communities held a peace rally to condemn former Bayan Muna party list representative Satur Ocampo and the New People’s Army (NPA) for exploiting their children in joining the communist group against the national government.
The rally was held in Talaingod Municipality, Davao del Norte on Saturday, December 1, 2018.
Bai Pilar Libayao, Municipal Indigenous People Mandatory Representative, said Ocampo and the NPA should respect them and stop exploiting their children.
The lumads called for the closure of Salugpungan schools established by Ocampo and his groups, which are being used for NPA recruitment among students, according to lumad leaders
“We have great respect for you, but do you respect us? You don’t have to bring the children if there’s no war in the mountains. Why would you bring them there?” Libayao said in a Philippine News Agency report.
Libayao said the National People’s Army (NPA) and the non-government organizations (NGOs) supporting the NPA are the ones destroying peace in the mountains.
Lumad tribes are peace-loving people who work quietly to provide food for their children and do not want to take sides between the activists and the government, Libayao said.
“Disturbance happened because you came here. In the evening, the NGOs are good at talking to children. If they’re unable to evacuate [the children], armed people will go up the mountains to get the children. No soldier will go up the mountains if there are no one from the other group there, that is the truth,” Libayao said.
Libayao said her husband was killed by members of the NPA to silence him from talking about the group’s activities.
“There’s a radio announcement that lumads have human rights, but the soldiers, none, those killed by NPAs, none. There’s no one saying that soldiers are the ones who abuse, because it’s the NPAs who first kill the soldiers,” Libayao said.
Alamara group founder Datu Andigao Agay, who was also at the Talaingod police station, said Ocampo’s group has no right to file a police report against the lumad or the police regarding the incident.
“We appeal to you, release our children and bring your teachers. It is not right that you’ll have us reported…you are the guilty ones, you should be the ones reported because this is our territory,” Agay said.
Agay said Ocampo’s group deserves to be detained because what they did is a form of child exploitation.
“That’s right because you’re getting children in the middle of the night, what is the problem? Why perform a rescue, is there a war?” she said, adding that the Lumad elders are no longer interested with the Salugpungan schools.
“We don’t like your schools anymore, no more teachers from you. Every time you enter our area, people are killed because of war, you kill our leader, so we don’t like you,” Agay said. (Source: Philippine News Agency)