Friday, November 6, 2015

IBP urges end to 'military-sponsored' oppression of lumad

See - IBP urges end to 'military-sponsored' oppression of lumad

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MANILA, Philippines -- The Integrated Bar of the Philippines has joined the growing condemnation of what it called “a systematic military-sponsored occupation of tribal lands and forced eviction” of thelumad .

In a statement, the country’s main lawyers’ organization urged that those responsible for the murders oflumad leaders and the displacement of thousands of indigenous people in Mindanao “be found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law and, more importantly, the people in government behind such a warped and twisted military strategy, should (be) stopped and held accountable.”

This is not the first time the IBP has come out strongly on an issue concerning human and civil rights.

IBP officers, led by its president, Rosario Setias-Reyes, released the statement at Manila’s Liwasang Bonifacio, where they joined leaders of hundreds of lumad at a protest camp for a press conference on Tuesday.

Lumad and human rights activists have been staging the Manilakbayan, trekking from Mindanao to the national capital, for the past three years in an effort to press the national government to act on worsening atrocities committed against them.

This year’s Manilakbayan was held amid the displacement of more than 6,000 lumad since early this year because of the occupation of their communities and tribal schools by the military and state-backed militias.

The bulk of this year’s evacuations happened after the September 1 murder by the Magahat militia of tribal school administrator Emerito Samarca and Manobo leaders Dional Campos and Datu Bello Sinzo in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

The military has denied anything to do with the Magahat although it has admitted that soldiers witnessed the executions of Campos and Sinzo in front of hundreds of witnesses but did not intervene.

“The Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall not stand idly by in the midst of such injustice against our indigenous peoples,” the lawyers’ organization said, noting that its Surigao del Sur chapter “has already taken action in assisting in the preparation of the complaints” against the Magahat militiamen involved in the Lianga murders.

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