Save Our Schools network (SOS) joined the protest action led by Sulong Katribu in front of the House of Representatives today. The group called for the removal of North Cotabato 2nd district representative Nancy Catamco from her National Cultural Communities committee chairwomanship in the lower house and to end military attacks on IP schools and communities.
The group lambasted Catamco and called her “anti-indigenous peoples” for her acts of betrayal of lumads who found their sanctuary in the UCCP Haran house in Davao City. Kharlo Manano, secretary-general of Salinlahi and lead convener of the SOS network said “The evacuees in Davao City were further made to suffer in the recent attempts of the police, military and Alamara, upon the command of Nancy Catamco, forcing them to return home. They used brute force in their so-called ‘rescue’ without even addressing the intensifying militarization in their communities, the very reason why the lumads, including more than 500 children, sought refuge in the city.”
Aside from further violations of human rights, the incidence proved how the Aquino government continues to turn a blind eye on the rights and welfare of indigenous peoples. “Even the United Nation Special Rapporteur on Internally Displaced Persons (UNSR IDP) Chaloka Beyani raised his concern over the plight of the 700 lumad refugees currently living in Davao City displaced because of the presence of military and paramilitary groups in their communities,” Manano continued.
Beyani, in his statement, also mentioned his concern over the alleged forced recruitment of lumad into para-military group Alamara as well as the reported cases of schools being closed/or occupied by the AFP and Alamara, hampering the access to education of indigenous children.
The network reiterated their call to hold Catamco, the AFP, PNP and BS Aquino accountable for the continuing rights violations of lumads in Mindanao. “We fear that the recent violence in Haran will possibly happen again, especially with Catamco instigating violence inside the sanctuary of the displaced lumads. How many more lumad children should fall victims in the hands of the fascist Aquino regime? We are calling all advocates to unite and echo the call for justice of the peoples of Mindanao, locally and internationally,” Manano ended.