Manila, Philippines - The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) denounced the recent atrocity against the Lumad people in Sitio Tibugawan, Brgy. Kawayan, San Fernando, Bukidnon. Members of para-military group New Indigenous People's Army (NIPAR) led by a certain Alde "Butsoy" Salusad opened fire at a wedding reception on the morning of July 30, resulting the death of a pregnant woman and wounding of seven, including five minors. Killed was identified as Makinit Gayoran, while among theminor victims were age 3, 7, and 8. This happened despite President Duterte’s ceasefire declaration during SONA.
The women and men religious, clergy and lay workers of RMP particularly in Northern Mindanao Region (NMR) were outraged as these paramilitary groups continued to abuse Lumad people without hesitation and continue to wreck havoc.
"A gross contempt of the Lord's commandment 'Thou shalt not kill,' this paramilitary group in Bukidnon does not value human life. We totally denounce this atrocity and we associate this with the continued impunity as it has committed similar acts mercilessly during Aquino's counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan," stated by Sr. Francis Añover, National Coordinator, RMP.
“We are enraged as the main perpetrator, this Butsoy, was the one who killed Jimmy Liguyon, another Lumad and a barangay captain of Dao, San Fernando, more than four years ago.” Añover said.
RMP also condemned the fact that Salusad and his group are being tolerated, that they are able to hunt down a Lumad leader Datu Jimboy Mandagit, who he accuses of being a member of the NPA after he accompanied the Lumad ‘bakwet’ to UCCP Haran in Davao City. As of today, around 150 Lumad families evacuated their homes and stayed in a covered court.
"Why is there no change in protecting the Lumad? Why do the Lumad killings continue?" Añover asked.
To seriously address the plight of the Lumad and farmers, RMP expressed support to the resumption of the formal peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Duterte government.
“We want the basic rights of Lumad, farmers, rural-based sectors protected. The government has already agreed with that with the NDFP since 1998, we want that to be fully respected,” she added.
Añover was referring to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) that prohibits government forces to target civilians or non-combatants.
RMP is also interested for the Socio-Economic Reforms (SER) agenda be put on the negotiating table as it would deliberate on the issues of land reform and rural development, respect for the rights to ancestral lands and protection of the environment against destructive mining and expansion of agriplantations for expot.
“It is disheartening that even under the Duterte presidency, we are compelled to call for ‘Stop Lumad Killings,’ which we thought would end with the Aquino regime,” the church leader said.
“We want change, as President Duterte promised, we call for peace based on justice, we call for justice for the victims of human rights abuses under the past administration and even of the present,” she demanded. ###
The RMP is a national organization, inter-congregational and 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).