A new kind of trouble is brewing in Mindanao as members of tribal groups, mainly the Lumad, are rising up in arms against the exploitation their people are experiencing from the New People’s Army (NPA).
“Noynoy did not pursue a resolute action on the oppression of the Lumad as this may even have had the blessing of the Liberal Party.
Recently, it was revealed, quite by accident, that young tribal children are being boarded by leaders of communist rebels in indoctrination camps in the guise of schools to be turned into hard-core cadres and guerillas.
The abuse inflicted on the Lumad tribe, however, goes way back and had intensified during the term of the chief yellow oppressor, the insensitive Noynoy Aquino.
As a result of a long dry spell in Mindanao in 2015, tribal communities went hungry and around 6,000 mostly Lumad farmers protested and sought immediate relief from the catastrophe that had lasted for a year without government action.
After a violent dispersal of a barricade line on the Cotabato-Davao Highway that resulted in the death of one or two farmer protesters, the police armed with a search warrant barged in the compound of a Methodist Church in Kidapawan City where protesters who fled the violent dispersal sought sanctuary.
The minorities were seeking government help, which then such as in the “Yolanda” tragedy was mostly denied to those who most needed this and instead went to political allies and supporters since it was a year prior to the polls.
After the violent confrontation between the protesting Lumad and the military, Noynoy callously told media personnel asking about the incident that the government does not have a policy of killing its citizens.
Indirectly, however, his administration was responsible for the minorities’ suffering through his incompetence.
The El Niño phenomenon was predicted by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration in 2014 and the administration of Noynoy allotted in the budget for 2015 some P19.2 billion for mitigation measures.
The El Niño funds went direct to either the Department of Interior and Local Government or local government officials.
Despite the release of the funds, no concrete program was shown, except for some local governments putting up huge drums in communities that hardly can be considered a government plan. An inter-agency El Niño Task Force was even formed backed by the funding.
The El Niño budget was earmarked for water management projects for farm production and irrigation.
For the Lumad farmers, there was no such government program.
Rights groups and the United Nations assailed Noynoy then for his lack of conviction in protecting rights while local activists associate such insensitive remark with his being a landlord in which oppression of the weak is rampant.
The Lumad were no different from the farm workers in Hacienda Luisita who are being abused and displaced from the land they till.
The exploitation of minorities in Mindanao has been happening mostly as a result of mining operations that require their removal from ancestral lands.
One such mining operation is being run by key members and supporters of the Liberal Party (LP).
“The Lumad were no different from the farm workers in Hacienda Luisita who are being abused and displaced from the land they till.
Two mining companies interested in the Lumad lands are owned by campaign financiers of LP 2016 standard bearer Mar Roxas.
SR Metals Inc. (SRMI), owned by Eric Gutierrez, was according to Lumad, the big-time mining firm in the area where oppression is rampant.
Gutierrez is a major contributor to the LP campaign.
SRMI formed private armies and paramilitary groups backed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines during the previous regime to enforce their will on the areas of operations, including the Lumad lands in Surigao.
Noynoy did not pursue a resolute action on the oppression of the Lumad as this may even have had the blessing of the LP since it is a beneficiary of the mining operations.
The NPA now draws most of its armed units from the Lumad as the communist movement is quick to exploit discontent.
Doing justice to the Lumad requires that the previous dispensation and its cronies be made answerable.