MANILA – Partylist representatives belonging to the Makabayan bloc in Congress today condemned the “illegal, violent and forcible entry” by Davao City police in the an evacuation center where Lumads have taken refuge to escape military operations in their communities since May.
The police action came days after North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco had insisted that the Lumads return to their communities, and claimed that the Maka-bayan lawmakers and progressive groups had “kidnapped and detained” the 700 evacuees in a “concentration camp,” referring to their sanctuary in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran compound in Davao City.
Catamco joined a fact-finding mission with Maka-bayan solons to probe the encampment by soldiers and the paramilitary group Alamara in Manobo communities in Talaingod, Da-vao del Norte and Bukid-non. In a dialogue she initiated with the Lumad evacuees, Catamco brought in military officials to the UCCP compound, and told the Lumads to go home.
“This forcibly entry is another blatant violation of the rights of the bakwits. The harassment, threats, killings, bombardments, and other human rights violations committed by state forces are the reason why these people has sought refuge at the UCCP Haran,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate.
At least 15 Lumads and datus (chieftains) were hurt as they barricaded at the gate while police were trying to force their way in.
Classes for the Lumad students were disrupted, and some children cried in fear inside the UCCP center, as the confrontation happened.
“To force these bakwits to return home without assurance that the military, as well as the paramilitary forces like the military-backed Alamara, will pull-out of their communities, proves how little regard and respect, if at all, that the present government affords the Lumad,” Zarate said. (Bulatlat.com)