MANILA – Leaders of the Manobo tribe in Mindanao on Wednesday condemned the alleged misrepresentation, false claims and the use of the indigenous peoples (IPs) by Save our Schools group and Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat.

In a statement, IP Mandatory Representatives of Surigao del Sur, Datu Jomar Bucales and Datu Rico Maca, said Cullamat and Bayan Muna together with other alleged leftist groups like Katribu, PASAKA, and Karapatan are allegedly spreading false reports and disinformation and continue to misrepresent the “true” IPs.

These groups, they said, raise and solicit funds from different international organizations on behalf of the IPs, but these same funds are allegedly being used to buy weapons to kill them.

They said if these groups really wanted to help them, they should talk with them.

“Kung gusto ninyo mutabang, dinhi mo sa amoa sa ancestral domain. Atubangi mi ug making istorya mo sa amua. Dili mo magbakak sa ngalan namo ug mangayo ug pondo o kwarta diha sa laing mga tawo ug grupo (If you want to help, be with us here in the ancestral domain. Face us and talk to us. Do not deceive people, claiming to speak on our behalf, that this is our situation and then ask for funds from other people or groups),” Maca said.

He said these groups pass on the blame to the government when it is actually their groups who are killing and suppressing the IPs.

Maca said recently, they were able to talk with the United Nations through UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Francisco Cali Tzay and UN Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzales, saying they relayed to them their actual situation, including challenges they face in their ancestral domains.

“We are happy that the United Nations last week has listened and talked to us about these personalities and groups that continue to kill and abuse the tribes but who are the same people who claim to help us. They use us in asking for funds and support allegedly for us. Do not believe these people. Do not listen to them. They are impostors who use and kill us, tribes,” Maca said in their local language.

Meanwhile, Bucales said they are asking the UN and the public not to listen to these groups who claim to be helping them and speaking on their behalf.

Bucales said they were also deceived and believed them.

“Kami nituo sad sa ilaha. Kami pa nagbuhat aning mga Lumad nga eskwelahan. Amo pud gipasara kay gina tudluan nila ang mga bata na mag rebelde sa mga tawo ug gobyerno ug musapi sa NPA (We also believed them. We even built the Indigenous Peoples ‘Lumad’ schools. But we also closed these schools because they taught our children to rebel against the people and the government and to join the New People’s Army),” he said.

The two Datus called on Cullamat and the other groups to stop using IPs and face them instead. (PNA)