Lumad leaders will be leading militant groups on a march to Mendiola on May 23 to protest the extended martial law in Mindanao.
Mindanao-based groups Kalumaran and Barug Katungod Mindanao made this announcement as they presented their assessment of the first year since Pres. Duterte declared martial rule in the island.
The groups said that one year after the declaration, state-sanctioned human rights abuses intensified.
Barug Katungod Mindanao documented 130 political killings since Duterte came to power in July 2016; 72 were reported under martial law.
They said that most of the victims of the documented cases are Lumad and peasants.
“The rampant killings in Mindanao have been utilized to force us out of our communities. The 121% increase in reports of killings since martial law was declared is indeed alarming. Mindanao is now a massive graveyard of national minorities,” said Barug Katungod Mindanao spokesperson Ryan Amper.
The group highlighted the massacre of members of the T’boli and Dulangan Manobo tribes in Lake Sebu in South Cotabato, which was maliciously presented by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as an encounter with rebels.
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The group also asserts that indigenous peoples are being branded as terrorists and killed due to their organized defense of ancestral lands against large-scale mining, plantation expansion, and other extractive industries. Their data shows that there are 404 cases of individuals slapped with trumped-up charges.
“Most of the individuals with trumped-up cases are national minority and peasant leaders, community organizers, environmental defenders, and human rights workers. They are affronted as individuals and their political rights are violated; they are forced to face false charges,” Amper said.
Barug Katungod also found that the increase in the number of deployed army troops to Mindanao is dangerous to the civilian population. More than 70% of AFP combat troops comprised of 74 battalions are now deployed in Eastern and Western Mindanao, 19 more than in 2015.
“There are 92,571 families affected due to the presence and operations of the military in the region. Almost 3,500 individuals suffered forced evacuations. We documented 54 incidents of aerial bombardments on 46 communities,” he said.
The organization stressed that Marawi, among other places in the region, suffered the most.
“Marawi is the personification of state terrorism and fascism. Duterte’s war on terror and Martial Law turned what once was a peaceful community into a no man’s land,” said Amper.
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“Aside from the physical destruction inflicted to the city, its rich culture and religious significance to the Moro people is devastated due to the unnecessary methods of the military in containing the conflict brought by the Maute Group,” he added.
The group also noted that Islamophobia and terror-tagging of Moros became prevalent and many were illegally arrested based on suspicion and false accusations.
“The face of Martial law in Mindanao is fear and destruction. Duterte’s tyranny ruined our communities, land, lives, culture, and future to pave the way for his sick game. He aims to stop the peoples’ legitimate struggle by maligning it as terrorism and rebellion. If he is really committed in resolving the discontentment of the people, he must resume the talks with the Left and reinforce the talks with the Moro resistance,” Amper said.