How to help the Manobo evacuees

Calls for support to the Manobo communities driven out from their communities by the paramilitary murders of their leaders have increased in recent days.

The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, which has community schools in lumad areas in Mindanao, call out to the Catholic groups to support the alternative learning schools and call for the end of militarization in Mindanao.

“We encourage different sectors especially the church people to join and support in condemning the continuous attack to Lumad communities and their alternative learning schools. We challenge the Aquino government to immediately act and stop the political killings, harassment and militarization not only in Surigao del Sur but the whole Mindanao region.” said RMP National Coordinator Sr. Francis Añover, RSM, who is also a Mindanaoan.

Añover also appealed to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to condole with the Manobo evacuees. “We also urge the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to condole with the victims by condemning the offense and the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan.”

Meanwhile, Manila Bulletin columnist and blogger Tonyo Cruz wrote about things the public can do to help the indigenous peoples in Mindanao, as suggested by Karapatan:

1. Ask President BS Aquino, the military’s commander-in-chief, to immediately order the withdrawal of military forces from all Manobo Lumad communities, houses, and schools so that the displaced communities could return home.

2. Call for an end to displacements, abductions, killings, and massacres of Manobo Lumads, and for an independent investigation into the tragic incidents.

3. Call for the prosecution of the perpetrators.

4. Call for abolition of Magahat Bagani, Alamara, and other “vigilante” groups.

5. Ask for the resignation of Rep. Catamco as chair of the House Committee on Indigenous Peoples, and for her investigation over the June 23 attack on UCCP Haran.

6. Seek an end to the “Oplan Bayanihan” counter-insurgency program for targeting civilians and civilian communities.