Lipatuan Unad, chairperson of Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Coalition for Cultural, Justice and Integrity
QUEZON CITY, Philippines — A group of Lumads from Mindanao arrived at Camp Crame to meet with Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde seeking to clear their name and prove that they are not members of the New People’s Army.
The group said their traditional costumes and culture are often used and imitated at anti-government rallies, but these protesters are not members of their tribe.
“Maliwanag na ngayon na ang mga yun ay di katutubo at di nila ka-tribo, ginagamit lang yung mga damit, yung kanilang tradisyon,” said PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde.
According to Lipatuan Unad, chairperson of Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Coalition for Cultural, Justice and Integrity, many of their members have been killed by the NPA for refusing to give in to the rebel group’s demands.
“Yung ginagawa ng CPP-NPA na kapag yung mga tribal leaders o IP (indigenous people) sa komunidad pag di sumama sa kanila ay marami ang mga pinapatay. May ilibing sa isang butas may apat at may lima,” Unad said.
The group is seeking police protection from the rebel group that teaches children to fight against the government.
“Ang sinabi naman ng NPA at ng organization na front nila na, ‘Sige magtulong kami sa inyo, lagyan namin ng eskwelahan ito.’ Pero ang problema naman, ang nilagay na eskwelahan, ang tinuturo ay yung pag dismantle sa baril at kanilang national anthem,” Unad revealed.
Although the PNP cannot grant the group’s request for arms, Gen. Albayalde promised to provide security.
“Mabigyan lang siguro natin sila ng karampatang proteksyon by way of patrolling in the area. Binibisita natin yung kanilang lugar, hindi lang yung AFP pati na yung PNP lalong lalo na yung mobile groups natin,” he said.
The Armed Force of the Philippines previously reported that the NPA plans to carry out a “Lakbay-Lumad Europe” in November as part of the ouster plot against President Rodrigo Duterte after their so-called Red October failed to happen in September. — Lea Ylagan