Mindanao IP’s lambasts terror-tag on UN rapporteur Corpuz, indigenous leaders

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(A PRESS STATEMENT)

The Mindanao-wide alliance Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (Strength of Indigenous Peoples, KALUMARAN) assailed the terrorist-listing of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz as “the highest manifestation of the extent of criminalization of indigenous leaders in the Philippines especially in Mindanao.”

“We reiterate that the Philippine government is waging a ‘war against indigenous peoples’ aside from its discredited ‘war on drugs’,” said Dulphing Ogan, KALUMARAN secretary general.

Ogan denounced the Philippine government for its tagging of 13 tribal leaders from Mindanao as terrorists. He said most of these leaders are from indigenous communities fighting mining corporations and agribusiness plantations that are encroaching on their ancestral lands.

“The inclusion of UNSRIP Victoria Tauli-Corpuz in the government’s terrorist list composed of activists and revolutionaries reflects the criminalization of our struggles for the right to self-determination from our local leaders like Sidro Sindao, to national personalities like Joanna Carino and Windel Bolinget, up to the international level in the persons of Vicky (Corpuz), Joan Carling, and Beverly Longid,” Ogan added.

Sindao is a member of Arakan-based Lumad group TIKULPA. Carino and Bolingit are known leaders of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and the national minorities alliance Sandugo. Carling is the former secretary general of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP). Longid is head of the Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation of which KALUMARAN is a founding member.

Ogan said that around half of 400 Mindanawons facing trumped up charges are Lumad leaders. With the terror list, he said, more fabricated cases are being readied by the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA). KALUMARAN also fears more Lumad killings are forthcoming on top of the 34 Lumad leaders already silenced by the Duterte administration.

“Any Lumad who stands in defense of land and rights can be the ‘John or Jane Does’ or any of the aliases in the charge sheet. Like Duterte’s drug war, the AFP and PNP can easily come up with a story or plant evidence to suit the DOJ’s proscription list,” Ogan said.

“Duterte and his favored oligarchs and foreign corporations involved in largescale mining, agribusiness plantations, energy, and other extractive industries are being confronted and defeated by fighting villages of Lumads in Mindanao. He therefore holds a deep contempt towards indigenous peoples as shown in the impunity of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its indigenous paramilitaries in militarizing communities and causing massive forced evacuations,” Ogan said.

Ogan denounced the AFP for “applying by the book the Vietnam-war era psychological warfare tactics under the United States Counterinsurgency Guide” including the periodic release of lists of “enemies of the state and now a hitlist of alleged terrorists filed before the courts.”

He recalls that former UNSRIP Rodolfo Stavenhagen was also vilified by the AFP for alleged bias for indigenous peoples during his 2002 visit to the Philippines. UN Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston was likewise discredited by the AFP after he made a scathing report on the military’s Oplan Bantay Laya in 2007.

“Duterte knows that the noose of accountability is closing in on him at the international level, not to mention the preliminary examination he now faces before the International Criminal Court for his war on drugs,” Ogan said.

“The inclusion of Corpuz and indigenous leaders is a desperate bid of this government to evade accountability for his ‘war against indigenous peoples’ in the Philippines,” he added.

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