A representative of the indigenous peoples (IP) in Surigao del Sur called on left-leaning organizations to stop deceiving the Manobo tribe, particularly recruiting IP minors to join the armed movement against the government.
“We are appealing to the left-leaning organizations, especially to the Save our School Network and social media personality Chad Booc, to stop spreading fake information about the situation because we are the ones who are bereaved, it seems that we are the ones being oppressed in this situation,” said Datu Rico Maca, Indigenous People Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of San Miguel, Surigao del Sur, during a virtual media briefing on Monday in Filipino.
Maca made the statement after several personalities and militant groups said the three fatalities in an “intense firefight” between the government forces and the communist rebels in Barangay Diatagan, Lianga town on June 15, were not New People’s Army (NPA) but plain civilians.
The Manobo tribal leaders, he said, conducted a tribal investigation into the armed ecounter that killed Lenie Perez Rivas, 38; Willy Salinas Rodriguez, 20; and a 12-year-old minor.
The tribal leaders appealed for respect of IP’s customary laws on self-governance and self-determination from those progressive organizations and personalities claiming that the fatalities were just victims of ‘militarization.’
Maca, however, denied that the IP communities were being maltreated by the military.
“We are the victims here, we are the affected ones. The claims of the Bakwit Schools students in the University of the Philippines in Cebu that we are being oppressed by the military forces are wrong. That is false,” Maca said in Filipino.
He lamented that communist rebels are the ones destroying the lives of the IP communities by putting up schools as a recruitment haven for the NPA.
“If we look at it, they say good things about education, but it serve as a stronghold of the rebels, this school is being used to mold the minds of the IP minors to overthrow the government,” he added in Filipno.
Maca disclosed the killings of the tribal leaders started when they decided to close down schools run by the communist groups.
“We can give figures, some numbers of those who brutally killed by the NPA, particularly those elderly tribal leaders who were killed because we decided to close down the left-leaning schools,” he added in Filipino.
He said Manobo tribal leaders and the IP themselves are really longing to end insurgency and live peacefully in their areas.
“Hopefully it will help us that the left-leaning organizations would stop their deceptions and exploitation of the IP youths especially here in our tribal community,” he said in Filipino. SOVEREIGNPH