We the clergy, women religious and lay church workers have come for our regular RMP –EV Task Faith Reflection (TFR) a timely activity for the arrival in Tacloban of our Lumad brothers and sisters from Mindanao. We have met them personally, have heard and were touched by their situation. Listening to their stories we have come to know that majority of the Literacy-Numeracy schools in their communities were established by the Rural Missionaries who listened to the requests of their Datus or the Lumad leaders that their children be able to read, write, count and know their rights to protect and defend their ancestral lands. Now, these schools are under military attack leading to the disruption of classes and their evacuation to the lowlands.
In the four regions in Mindanao there are more than a hundred Literacy-Numeracy schools majority of them are RMP initiated schools but the Lumad counterpart was their labor in the school construction. They are DepEd recognized and accredited schools and the teachers are licensed having passed the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET). The Lumad communities are organized and united themselves to protect and defend their ancestral lands, hence their opposition to the entry of large scale mining companies that will destroy and plunder their natural resources. Agriculture is part of the school curriculum to let the students appreciate and love for their land that sustains life, including their Lumad culture.
Despite all these, the military encamp their schools threatening the teachers and their communities, and labeling them as supporters or sympathizers of the “enemies of the state”. They also formed paramilitary groups and armed them to threaten the Lumad leaders to the extent of killing them because of their opposition to mining. The latest incident was last Sept. 1 in Han-ayan Lianga Surigao Sur, the killing of Emerito Samarca Executive Director of ALCADEV and two Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo.
In view of this and after serious deep faith reflection, we the RMP Eastern Visayas expresses our strong solidarity with the plight of the Lumads in Mindanao, and we too cry out STOP LUMAD KILLINGS ! JUSTICE for the victims of Human Rights violations, STOP militarization, End Impunity.
The RMP is a national organization, inter-congregational ang inter-diocesan in character, of women and men religious, priests and lay. We live and work with the peasants (farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples and agricultural workers).