By Ces Noble| Contributor
A select group of Indigenous People’s (IP) leaders from conflict-torn Mindanao, Philippines have come to the United States to present their case to the United Nations and to meet with Filipino-American communities. Eight (8) tribal leaders have arrived for what they call A Truth Mission – expose the truth about communist-terrorists in the Philippines that have plagued their ancestral homes and lives for the past 50 years.
First stop – NEW YORK CITY, home of the United Nations Generally Assembly that gave the world the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It was adopted on September 13, 2007, by 144 States to protect the human rights of an estimated 370 million native people worldwide, along with their lands and resources. The Declaration enumerates both individual and collective rights, such as the right to political self-determination, the right to education, and the right to maintain cultural institutions. It will be put to the test as the Pinoy Lumads seek refuge and claim for themselves the power of this declaration.
Tribal leader, Chiary Balinan, was first to speak in the event in Queens, NY. “We have come here to tell our stories, the truth of the situation of the indigenous peoples in the Philippines, and to seek your help to end communist terrorism. We are here because the greatest weapon against deception is the truth,” Balinan explained.
Balinan recounted that thousands had been killed in their community, including women and young people, because they refuse to follow the unlawful orders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-New People’s Army (NPA). “Our women were raped. Our culture subverted, and our resources plundered. Our peaceful communities destroyed, forcing us to seek refuge elsewhere. Our children have been brainwashed to become child warriors,” she added.
Datu Bawan Jacob Lanes of the Mandaya Tribes from Davao City, relayed his plea, “Please help us clear the issues of the Lumad killings and attacks on our communities and schools.
The NPA’s are the ones attacking and violating our rights. They want to convert our ancestral domain into their guerilla bases and recruit our youth to become their child warriors.”
Datu Joel Dahusay, teacher and community organizer, shared how the Salugpungan school has become an instrument of the communist-terrorists to deceive and corrupt the IP culture. The CPP-NPA are radicalizing the youth, and they continue to do this up to this time given the support of international groups.
Datu Awing Maraan Apuga, a former New People’s Army (NPA) child warrior, called on the US government, the UN and other international groups to help cut the financing and aid to CPP-NPA and its front groups. Accordingly, the CPP-NPA is listed as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) in the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), accompanying the delegation espoused, “President Rodrigo Duterte paved the way for the tribal leaders’ voices to be heard. Through Executive Order 70, the President created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which institutionalizes a “whole-of-nation approach” in attaining an inclusive and sustainable peace.
She explained that the Whole of Nation approach includes Philippine embassies and Heads of Mission around the world, and their commitment to join hands with NTF ELCAC is key to ending the CPP-NPA-NDF that has spread its support network to some 39 countries around the globe.
The PCOO and the Lumads are grateful to Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez, who has assured the fullest participation of his office in making sure the President’s directives get implemented and the objective to end communist insurgency will be attained.
The Lumad delegation will visit San Francisco to present in a similar forum entitled Breaking the Silence on July 10, 2019, 6 PM (Wednesday) at the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco located on 447 Sutter St., San Francisco, 94108.
For more information about the Lumads in America, see the Philippine News Agency (PNA) page at https://www.pna.gov.ph.