Many indigenous peoples (IP) leaders are currently braving across the United States of America; from New York to Chicago and California to Washington DC to let their voices be heard against the “17 atrocities” a collection of tribal leaders and victim accounts on the alleged human rights violations by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NFDP).
Last June 29, IP and tribal leaders shared the horrors and inhumane human rights crimes of the CPP-NPA before the members of Patriotic Filipinos, a Filipino community group, in Queens, New York.
Christine Banugan, 28, recollected how she continued to lead the Mandaya Tribe of Davao Oriental after her father and uncle, both of whom were adamant in upholding the rights of indigenous peoples, were killed in cold blood by members hailing from the CPP-NPA.
Even community organizer and IP teacher Joel Dahusay who observed how the Salugpungan school strayed from the DepEd curriculum and instead focused on topics on inequality and hatred that persuaded students to participate in violent rallies founded on deception. Dahusay said that the culture of IP has now been tainted and it reflects in the current corrupt and radical situation of the school.
According to Datu Bawan Jacob Lanes, tribe member of the Mandaya Tribes, the indigenous people’s expression of self-determination is self-governance and empowerment under the Philippine flag and not the CPP-NPA-NDFP’s framework of liberation.
“Please help us clear the issues of the Lumad killings and the alleged attacks on our community and schools,” pleaded Lanes as he shared that the groups who are attacking violating their rights and communities are the same groups who convert their ancestral domain into guerilla bases and influence their young to be expendable child warriors.
The “17 atrocities” has been submitted to the Commission on Human Rights and Philippine National Police already. Among those listed is the massacre incident on June of 1989 which resulted in the deaths of 39 church attendees in Digos, Davao del Sur and was allegedly executed by members of the NPA.
“Despite threats to my life, I continue my leadership because if no one will lead them, who will?” Banugan put forth.
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