Percenita “Daday” Sanchez bedankt Stop the Killings voor de steun

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De mensenrechtenprijs van Stop the Killings werd in ontvangst genomen door de Filippijnse Percenita “Daday” Sanchez. Zij maakt deel uit van de Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation. Deze organisatie richtte 19 scholen op voor Lumads. Dit is de speech die ze gaf in De Markten.

Distinguished  guest, ladies and gentlemen.

It is an honor and a privilege to accept this award in behalf of my fellow Lumads of Mindanao.

Lumad is a collective term for people born in the island with 18 ethnolinguistic groups of Indigenous  Peoples  comprising 1.7 million population living in the mountainous area that is twice as big as Belgium.

We have long been neglected by the Philippine Government. Many are undocumented and not counted as among the 100 million population of Filipinos as of 2010.

The Lumads are suppose to own the “Ancestral Lands” according to the law ( Indigenous People’s Rights Act) but the same law permits big corporations to explore and invest in our ancestral lands. First came the mono-crop plantations of coconut, pineapple, banana, rubber and oil palm and then the large scale mining for gold, copper, chromite, coal and many more.   

Majority are illiterate ( 9 out of 10 lumad children do not have access to education). Those who have attained higher education have become Lumad “dealers” instead of becoming “leaders”. A few became government officials but lost compassion for their tribe.

This situation prompted missionaries to educate the Lumads, others evangelized and baptized them and others recognized their rights to determine their own faith. Many Lumads remained animist (they worship the spirits in the environment such as big mountains and rivers) that are now lost. Mountains are flattened to the ground and rivers are polluted with cyanide and mercury.

Lumads also have a historic culture of resistance, many resisted the intrusion of logging companies as in the case of Alsons (Alcantara  and Sons Logging Company) in Talaingod Davao del Norte in 1994; APEX mining in Compostela Valley; Youbang and Bearbull Mines in Davao Oriental.     And now the mining companies in Caraga region in Mindanao.

Mindanao’s ancestral domains are the Philippines’ last frontiers. But these lands are now being plundered and our communities militarized. In pursuit of this imperialist plunder, the Aquino government is attacking our schools, communities, and people through the State’s internal security doctrine Oplan Bayanihan. In truth, Oplan Bayanihan is the government’s war for plunder and war against the people.

Indigenous community schools in Mindanao have been targeted for closure, encampment, vilification, and harassments. These schools have been initiated by Lumad community organizations, with assistance from non-government organizations and support groups, in response to the need to address high illiteracy rates in rural areas.

Militarization of communities has led to forcible evacuations of Lumads. Their livelihood has been disrupted. Community infrastructure like schools, clinics, collective farms have been destroyed.

Using the classic divide-and-rule approach, the Philippine military has organized, armed, and trained indigenous paramilitaries to fight against their kin.

School director Emerito Samarca and indigenous leaders Dionel Campos and Bello Sinzo were brutally killed inside  ALCADEV Campus in Surigao del Sur on September 1 this year. On October 23, the students and teachers  of MISFI Academy in Kitaotao Bukidnon were driven away from the school by the military.

This and other gruesome killings, massacres, and enforced disappearances demonstrate the state of impunity in Mindanao today.

Advocates against big mining, plantations, and other extractive projects, as well as teachers and students, have been lodged with fabricated criminal suits. They are facing threats to their lives.

Several of those who find their names in the military’s  “order of battle hit list” have become victims of summary executions.

The continuing military operations have resulted to massive evacuation. There are more than 3,000 individuals who are now in the Sports complex of Tandag Surigao del Sur, more than 5 hundred in Bukidnon and more than a thousand in Haran Davao city since March of this year. Just the other day another 200 individuals evacuated to Davao City from Compostela Valley Province.

Despite the series of lobbying and manifestations including the recent “Manilakbayan” where Lumads from Mindanao traveled and marched to Manila, President Benigno S. Aquino continuously ignored  the pleas of Lumads. Thus, many organizations seek the support of international policy makers and opinion makers to help us in this plight.

This award gives hope to the Lumads to continue the struggle for their rights and self determination. We look forward to your continuing support and solidarity.

Thank you.