Stop NPA deceptions, recruitment of Manobo kids: IP leader
By Lade Jean Kabagani / Philippine News Agency
MANILA – A representative of the indigenous peoples (IP) in Surigao del Sur called on left-leaning organizations to stop deceiving the Manobo tribe, particularly recruiting IP minors to join the armed movement against the government.
"Kami po ay nanawagan sa mga left-leaning organizations lalo sa Save our School Network at yung isang nakilala natin sa social (media) na si Chad Booc na sana naman tigilan nila yung pag spread out ng mga fake na information kasi kami pa po yung namatayan, kami pa po yung parang inaapi dito sa situation na ito (We are appealing to the left-leaning organizations, especially to the Save our School Network and social media personality Chad Booc, to stop spreading fake information about the situation because we are the ones who are bereaved, it seems that we are the ones being oppressed in this situation)" said Datu Rico Maca, Indigenous People Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of San Miguel, Surigao del Sur, during a virtual media briefing on Monday.
Maca made the statement after several personalities and militant groups said the three fatalities in an "intense firefight" between the government forces and the communist rebels in Barangay Diatagan, Lianga town on June 15, were not New People's Army (NPA) but plain civilians.
The Manobo tribal leaders, he said, conducted a tribal investigation into the armed ecounter that killed Lenie Perez Rivas, 38; Willy Salinas Rodriguez, 20; and a 12-year-old minor.
The tribal leaders appealed for respect of IP's customary laws on self-governance and self-determination from those progressive organizations and personalities claiming that the fatalities were just victims of 'militarization.'
Maca, however, denied that the IP communities were being maltreated by the military.
"Kami po yung totoong biktima, kami po yung totoong apektado. Mali po yung sinasabi ng mga taga bakwit school student na nandun sa UP, na nandun sa Cebu na inaapi kaming mga tribo katutubo ng kasundaluhan. Mali po yun (We are the victims here, we are the affected ones. The claims of the Bakwit Schools students in the University of the Philippines in Cebu that we are being oppressed by the military forces are wrong. That is false)," Maca said.
He lamented that communist rebels are the ones destroying the lives of the IP communities by putting up schools as a recruitment haven for the NPA.
"Kung tingnan natin maganda po yung sinasabi nila pero ito yung kuta, ito yung eskwelahan para imold yung utak ng kabataan tribo na magigig anti-government (If we look at it, they say good things about education, but it serve as a stronghold of the rebels, this school is being used to mold the minds of the IP minors to overthrow the government)," he added.
Killings of tribal leaders
Maca disclosed the killings of the tribal leaders started when they decided to close down schools run by the communist groups.
"Makapagbigay po kami ng figures, numbers ng iilan na brutally na pinatay ng NPA, 'yung mga tribal leaders na senior citizens na pinapatay ng NPA sa kadahilanan na kami ay nag-decide na ipasarado ang makarebeldeng eskwelahan (We can give figures, some numbers of those who brutally killed by the NPA, particularly those elderly tribal leaders who were killed because we decided to close down the left-leaning schools)," he added.
He said Manobo tribal leaders and the IP themselves are really longing to end insurgency and live peacefully in their areas.
"Sana matulungan kami na yung mga left-leaning organizations ay matapos na ang kanilang panlilinlang at paggamit sa mga kabataang tribo lalo na dito sa amin (Hopefully it will help us that the left-leaning organizations would stop their deceptions and exploitation of the IP youths especially here in our tribal community)," he said.
The Communist Party of the Phiulippines - NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)