On the continuing violation of the right to land and life of Lumad communities in Misamis Oriental, Philippines

It is with utmost alarm and indignation that we in PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) convey our condemnation of the reported continuing violation of the human rights of the Lumad group Higaonon from Misamis Oriental province in the Philippines.

The Higaonon people of Lagonglong town in Misamis Oriental have been driven away again from their ancestral lands and forced to abandon their livelihoods due to alleged relentless harassment by units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

lumads-fleeing_sunstar-com-ph
Photo from sunstar.com.ph

As advocates of the right to land and life of peasant and indigenous communities, we stand in solidarity with the Lumad in their struggle to return to their home and way of life safe from any form of intimidation.

Based on reports from our friends and partners in the Philippines, soldiers allegedly peppered a local school with bullets and looted houses. When the people left to flee the military atrocities, the soldiers set up camp in front of the area where the Lumad evacuated. The military justifies its actions by claiming that the locals are supporters or members of the armed rebel group New People’s Army (NPA).

But the inhumanity reportedly being committed by soldiers against the Lumad – including children who now suffer various illnesses in the evacuation center, not to mention the deep trauma from their ordeal – is absolutely unacceptable even when carried out in the name of government’s counter-insurgency campaign. The military is, in fact, fanning the insurgency as more and more rural families in the Philippine countryside become displaced and landless.

We join the Lumad in their unwavering assertion for land and life as we express deep hope that the incoming new Philippine administration and its stated willingness to peacefully deal with the decades-old insurgency would open up opportunities for the Lumad to return home and live in peace on their lands that have nurtured them for generations. ###

Reference: Ms. Sarojeni Rengam, PAN Asia Pacific, Executive Director,nolandnolife@panap.net

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