The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation denounces yet another attack by the Philippine Government against the Lumad Indigenous Peoples. This time it came through a statement by a government-appointed tribal chief which criticized a documentary depicting the realities of Lumad students in the refugee school and their experiences in their communities which caused them to seek refuge in the city.
The Lumad schools, as told by the students themselves, have taught the youth not only reading and writing skills, but also lessons on critical thinking and basic human rights. It is precisely for this reason that it is constantly under attack. The defamation against journalist Atom Araullo’s documentary entitled, “Ang Iskul kong Bakwit” (My Refugee School) is the state’s latest attempt to cover-up its atrocities in Indigenous communities in Mindanao.
So-called IP leaders in the province of Surigao del Sur, Mindanao have denounced the documentary citing that it has failed to grasp the real situation in their communities. These so-called leaders are calling for support from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to take legal action on the use of children in the documentary. The NCIP is a government agency that reportedly has constantly violated free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) by acting as a broker to big corporations drooling over resource-rich IP territories. This is also the same agency that appointed the datu who is now jabbering lies to discredit the Lumad schools and the wider IP struggle for self-determination.
One of the government-appointed datu also referred to the Lumad communities’ evacuation as a mere tactic to besmirch the military as if this is not a result of the government’s policy of militarization in the countryside. The statement is brimming with praises for the military, presenting them as champions of IP rights – an outright insult to the countless victims of massacres, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, and torture committed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines all over the country.
We salute Mr. Atom Araullo and the crew at iWitness who helped produce this important documentary at this time where attacks on our basic rights intensify and just dissent is criminalized. We also commend the Lumad communities and local people’s organizations which persist to defend human rights despite fierce attacks from the state. We call on the Filipino people to remain critical of the lies peddled by the state and to hold to account the real rights violators.
Stop Lumad killings, save our schools!
Defend ancestral lands!