Support Needed for the Lumads of Mindanao

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Indigenous communities from different regions of Mindanao are calling for international support in their fight to defend their ancestral land from military encroachment and harassment. The Benigno Aquino government has sent thousands of its troops to rural areas as part of its counterinsurgency program called Oplan Bayanihan. The militarization has resulted in the destruction of indigenous (lumad) livelihoods, division of their communities, disruption of children’s education, forced evacuations, amongst many other human rights violations. Throughout the region, the Lumad traveled for hours and days to go to Davao City to evacuate and make a political statement and expose the human rights violations being carried out by the military. To read more, scroll down below to the letter from Salugpongan International.

The Lumads of Mindanao are in urgent need of our moral, material and financial support. To find out more about how you can get involved, please join us at our next Panaghiusa meeting on Thursday, March 5th, 7pm at Rosewood United Methodist Church (4101 Rosewood Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004).

To make an online donation via Paypal or credit card, click here for the Rosewood UMC site and then click on the “Donate” button under “Online Giving” (on the bottom right). Please specify “Advocacy Ministry – Panaghiusa bakwet” as designated beneficiary and send a confirmation email to Luis Buktaw at jluisybuktaw@yahoo.com.

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Greetings!

Defend the Ancestral Land! Oppose Oplan Bayanihan!

This is the call of different indigenous peoples from Mindanao from different regions in Mindanao who are currently experiencing intense militarization in their communities and ancestral land. They have united and walked for hours or even days to go to Davao City in order to defend their ancestral land and their future.

Oplan Bayanihan is a counter-insurgency program under Aquino’s government. As the government sends thousands of military troops to the rural areas, Lumad communities are the first to be affected by the militarization. Right now, there are 55 battalions deployed in Mindanao. In addition to this, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is training lumad paramilitary groups as part of a divide-and-rule strategy. This has resulted to many human rights violations, divisions in their communities, destruction of their livelihoods, and forced evacuations. Oplan Bayanihan has been a great obstacle for the Manobos to carry out their daily lives, practice their livelihoods, and exercise their right to self determination.

One of the main targets are the schools that the Lumad built for their communities. For many years, the schools have helped in providing the social services that the government have neglected to provide for the Lumad communities. The schools teach the children read and write, help develop their agricultural production, train health workers in the communities, and teach the children about the history of their struggle to protect their ancestral land. However, these schools are being tagged by the military as schools of the New People’s Army. The military have occupied some of the schools or have build detachments close by. There are many cases of harassment of students and teachers, such as the incident in Sitio Nasilaban where soldiers fired shots indiscriminately around the school. In one of the schools in Kapalong, the paramilitary group Alamara blocked the teachers from going back to the school and detained one of the students for one week, accusing him of being a member of the NPA.

The Manobo’s struggle against militarization have been going on for some time. In April of last year, more than 1300 manobos evacuated their communities to call for an end to militarization in their communities. After a month they were able to successfully call for the military to pull out from the communities. However, two months after they went back to their homes, the military returned. From then till now, more human rights violations and harassment cases occurred. In Agusan del Sur, there were multiple killings of Lumad leaders who are trying to protect their land from mining companies. This is why last month, hundreds of Lumads, both from Talaingod and Agusan del Sur left their homes, their farms and their livelihoods to live in makeshift tents, in order to voice out their concerns. For them, their evacuation or “bakwet” is not an act of cowardice or retreat. Instead, it is a way for them to show their unity and strength. It is their way of fighting to defend their ancestral land and the future of their children.

We in Salugpongan International recognize the importance of education for the Lumad communities to advance their right to self determination. However, this cannot be achieved while they are constantly harassed by the military. We commend the Manobos for taking action and standing up for their rights. It is important for us in the international community to provide moral and material support to the bakwet. As they are separated from their homes and their livelihoods, they have a lot of material needs as they such as slippers, food, drinks, toiletries. More importantly, we can help strengthen their voice and their morale by showing our solidarity with them and help pressure the government to stop the militarization of the communities.

We call on everyone to send their messages of support, to hold information and fundraising events in order to show solidarity for our Lumad brothers and sisters.

Dugang Kadasig!

Salugpongan International
http://salugpongan.org

Typhoon Relief Mission Report Back

Typhoon Relief Mission Report Back

This Summer 2014, twenty-four Filipino American youth and college students journeyed to typhoon-devastated areas in the Visayas and Mindanao to take part in a grassroots relief and rebuilding mission.  Come and hear first-hand accounts from the people’s courageous efforts to rebuild their lives and build a brighter future for the Philippines.  Learn how you can be part of creating the change and join future relief missions.

Sunday, September 21, 2014, 5:30 PM- 8:00 PM
Rosewood UMC Fellowship Hall
4101 Rosewood Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Sponsored by:
NAFCON, KBKN, Panaghiusa, Rosewood UMC Task Force on the Philippines, FAHWA, BAYAN, ILPS

For more information: kbkn.tumblr.com

Forum for Peace in the Philippines

Forum for Peace in the Philippines

Join us for a discussion about the current human rights situation in the Philippines. We will share personal testimonies and updates from the indigenous people of Talaingod who have been evacuated due to heavy militarization. Learn about the role of the peace talks in the Philippines and be part of the movement for a just and lasting peace in the Philippines!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014
6:30 PM — 8:30 PM
Rosewood United Methodist Church
4101 Rosewood Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004

Light refreshments will be served.

For more information, contact panaghiusa4minda@gmail.com.

Panaghiusa
BAYAN SoCal
Cal Pac Taskforce for the Philippines
Rosewood UMC
ANAKBAYAN Los Angeles & San Diego
GABRIELA Los Angeles
Habi Arts

Letter to Senator Barbara Boxer

Office of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
312 N. Spring St. Suite 1748
Los Angeles, CA

Dear Senator Boxer, Mr. Maurice Lyles and Ms. Patricia Zarate,

Thank you for making the time to meet with us on Tuesday, April 1,  to hear our concerns regarding the human rights crisis in the Philippines. Since our meeting, we have received news that a 12-day-old baby has perished in the midst of the evacuation. http://newsdesk.asia/12-day-old-baby-dies-while-lumad-families-flee-militarized-upland-villages

We know the humanitarian work and advocacy that we continue to do to support our sisters and brothers in the Philippines is even more important now when entire communities in Talaingod, Davao del Norte are being displaced due to militarization and aerial bombings. As faith and community leaders in Southern California, it has been a priority for us to visit your office twice within the last 10 days because the Philippine military responsible for human rights violations across the archipelagic nation, violate people’s rights with impunity and increasing military aid from the United States. Senator Boxer, we need your help.

It is disturbing to hear the reports from religious volunteers on the ground in Davao del Norte, updates confirming that the food of the communities has been destroyed and that the military is intensifying its operations. Unfortunately, the military occupation of the indigenous Manobo communities is not the only news that breaks our hearts. Within the last month, the assassination of 65-year old fair trade advocate Romeo Capalla by state agents and the extra-judicial killings of small-scale miners and indigenous rights activists in the Cordillera region are just a few examples of how human rights situation in the Philippines has deteriorated into a state of terror.

As of today, there have now been 19 extra-judicial killings in 2014 that have been accounted for by Karapatan, a human rights NGO in the Philippines. Below is  the list of the victims from the first 3 months of 2014.

  • January 03, 2014 – MONTERONA, Marcelo, 41, Farmer, Indug Kautawan, Maco, Compostela Valley
  • January 12, 2014 – TOLENTINO, Antonio, 62, Farmer, Aniban, Hacienda Dolores, Porac, Pampanga
  • January 30, 2014 – ORBINA, Henry, Worker, Cabadian, Sorsogon
  • January 31, 2014 – AMBONGAN, Datu Rolando, 39, Higaonon tribe, Katribu Partylist member, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte
  • February 05, 2014 – LAURON, Julieto, 41, Farmer, Kasama – Bukidnon, Valencia, Bukidnon
  • February 06, 2014 – RAYTERAN, Rosaldo, Driver, Albay People’s Org, Libon, Albay
  • February 06, 2014 – RAYTERAN, Rasty, 18, Youth, Libon, Albay
  • February 18, 2014 – ARCHIVAL, Noel, 53, Lawyer, Dalaguette, Cebu
  • February 18, 2014 – MIÑOZA, Candido, 47, Archival’s aide, Dalaguette, Cebu
  • February 18, 2014 – JAYME, Alejandro, 45, Archival’s driver, Dalaguette, Cebu
  • March 03, 2014 – LIGIW, Fermin, 29, Binongan-Tinguian tribe, Anakbayan/Kastan (CPA provincial chapter), Baay-Licuan, Abra
  • March 03, 2014 – LIGIW, Eddie, 45, Binongan-Tinguian tribe, Kastan, Baay-Licuan, Abra
  • March 03, 2014 – LIGIW, Licuben, 77, Binongan-Tinguian tribe, Kastan, Baay-Licuan, Abra
  • March 15, 2014 – CAPALLA, Romeo, 65, entrepreneur, PFTC, SELDA, Oton, Iloilo
  • March 22, 2014 – LUBIANO, Julio, 31, Small-scale miner, Caramoan, Camarines Sur
  • March 22, 2014 – LUBIANO, Rene, 28, Small-scale miner, Caramoan, Camarines Sur
  • March 22, 2014 – VIRTUS, Salem, 24, Small-scale miner, Caramoan, Camarines Sur
  • March 22, 2014 – BRONDIA, Jesse, 35, Small-scale miner, Caramoan, Camarines Sur
  • March 25, 2014 – BUGATTI, William, 43, CHRA, CPA, BM provincial coordinator, Kiangan, Ifugao

This human rights crisis in the Philippines is gaining more international attention, but more attention to the crisis from our government is desperately needed.  We believe that the special hearing that you chaired in March 2007 in the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs on topic of the growing human rights crisis in the Philippines helped to bring more attention to the crisis. We believe that your advocacy helped to save lives. Though the extrajudicial killings continued in 2007 after the hearing, there was a dramatic decrease from 209 in 2006, to 68 in 2007. And with the increase in extra-judicial killings and militarization now, we pray that you will delve into this matter before more violations continue.

Please read the attached 2014 Ecumenical Advocacy Days Report: The Philippines in the Vortex of Complex Environmental Catastrophes, Human Rights Violations and Long Term Conflicts for the current state of human rights in the Philippines.  Our colleagues from the National Ecumenical Forum for Filipino Concerns have already visited Senators Leahy, Feinstein and Durbin regarding the human rights concerns discussed in this advocacy report.

In addition, we have included the following as resources:

  • the 2007 and 2013 reports from Karapatan (a national human rights organization in the Philippines.
  • video link of Manobo evacuation in Davao del Norte  (http://t.co/Ju3IKTMQU9)
  • recent news coverage of the Mindanao human rights abuses
  • our letter regarding the ongoing bombing of Manobo communities

We urge you to work together with Sen. Leahy to hold a hearing on the Human Rights situation in the Philippines. We strongly support withholding foreign military aid to the Armed Forces of the Philippines so long as the military continues to exacerbate human rights abuses and the perpetrators are not brought to justice. We believe we that together we can make a difference in defending human rights.

Thank you for your continuing championship of human rights and justice.

Signed,

Rev. Sandra Richards, Senior Pastor, First UMC of Los Angeles
Rev. Richard Bentley, Lead Pastor, First UMC of Alhambra
Luis Buktaw, Co-Chair of the UMC California-Pacific Taskforce on the Philippines
Theresa Jaranilla, Regional Coordinator, BAYAN USA, SoCal
Kuusela Hilo, Panaghiusa
Bev Tang, GABRIELA Los Angeles
Adam Shaw, Panaghiusa

Panaghiusa Report Back 2013

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You’re invited to an evening of solidarity as we report on our International Solidarity Mission this past summer in support of the health, environmental, human rights concerns of the indigenous people of Mindanao and the Filipino peoples’ dreams and struggles for peace with justice.

Saturday, September 21, 2013
Grace United Methodist Church
2325 E 3rd Street
Long Beach, CA 90814

Potluck, 4 PM
Program, 5 PM—7 PM

Food, Music, Performances, Booths, and More!

All Are Welcome

Co-sponsored by:
Panaghiusa “Unity” Network
Filipino Migrant Center
Filipino Health Workers
Grace UMC
BAYAN USA
National Alliance for Filipino Concerns
Sisters of Gabriela Awaken (SiGAw)
Habi Arts
Anakbayan LA

Press Statement of the International Solidarity Mission to Southern Mindanao

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PRESS STATEMENT
July 17, 2013

Contact Information:
U.S. Contact
Rev. Frank Wulf, United Methodist Church, California-Pacific Annual Conference
Email: panaghiusa4minda@gmail.com

Philippine Contact
Karlos Trangia, Barug Katawhan, (People Rise Up)

Press Statement of the International Solidarity Mission to Southern Mindanao

In visiting Davao and Southern Mindanao communities, we, 39 international delegates from the 2013 International Solidarity Mission (ISM) for the Survivors of Typhoons Pablo and Crising and Human Rights Violations in Paquibato in Southern Mindanao witnessed how Pablo survivors are rebuilding their communities and restoring hope for themselves and for us.

The ISM sponsored humanitarian relief including basic services such as medical, dental and psycho-social services, basic infrastructure for schools and resources for sustainable agriculture projects, providing support for the most basic human needs that the government relief efforts fail to address.

The Talaingod team consisted of 45 delegates and provided a medical mission, psycho-social therapy for children, and distribution of farm tools and seedings in a Manobo Lumad community. The medical mission served nearly 800 individuals within 14 hours. They received free treatment and vitamins.

The Panansalan team consisted of 29 delegates who provided a school nursery, school farm, corn harvesting, psycho-social therapy, and launched the tree rain-forestation campaign in a Mandaya Lumad community. The delegates took part in school rebuilding due to militarization and large-scale mining.

The Osmeña-San Miguel team visited the Sumifru and Freshman-Rotto striking workers. The team heard workers who stopped working due to Pablo since the banana companies were attempting to negate their pre-Pablo pay and to push for a lower piece-meal pay. The workers are fighting for getting their jobs back and having decent living and working conditions.  In an immediate act of solidarity, the international delegates offered a collection of 12,000 pesos to support the striking workers with rice for their families and closed the evening in Barangay Andap with an international solidarity night.

In Paquibato, we have witnessed the palpable violation of the people’s civil and political rights, the terror in which children, and their mothers had to live through as they face   military harassment and psychological torture because their father, husband or families are with the New Peoples’ Army. We support hence, the passage of the local ordinance Rebelyn Code which upholds the principles of the CAHRIHL.

We salute the people’s courageous response in organizing themselves to rebuild their communities in the aftermath of Pablo through rebuilding Lumad schools, food security, sustainable agriculture and rainforestation programs and defending their ancestral lands that are currently the most militarized region of the country.  As international witnesses for peace and justice, we draw inspiration from the survivors as they continue to restore hope.

We declare our international solidarity pledge to provide stronger support for the Pablo and Crising survivors and victims by being more active in campaigns against corporate logging, foreign-dominated mining operating in Pablo affected communities and in campaigns that expose the militarization and corruption of relief assistance, human rights violations of Pablo survivors, and to oppose the planned civil military operations of US military troops in these communities.

We also send a special message of solidarity to the Pablo survivors in Baganga, Davao Oriental.  We were not able to witness rebuilding efforts in Baganga because the Philippine military continues to rule that community under a de-facto martial law, occupying the municipal government offices and civilian communities, making it very difficult for even national interfaith delegations to bring humanitarian relief to Davao Oriental.

Having witnessed all of these gross violations of civil and political, social, economic and cultural rights of the people in Mindanao, we hold President Aquino accountable for the criminal neglect of the Filipino people, especially the victims of Pablo and Crising. The human rights violations in Southern Mindanao range from the government’s criminal neglect of the basic needs of the people to militarization of civilian communities and military occupation of civilian structures such as schools and barangay halls. We condemn these on-going international war crimes. These operations resulted in furthering military hamletting, harassment, and human rights abuses in the most storm-ravaged areas.

We further condemn the Philippine government for enacting laws that exacerbate the plunder of natural resources and land-grabbing, violating the economic, cultural and political rights of the people to live a decent and sustainable life.

We likewise condemn the government’s collusion with foreign multi-national corporations such as SUMIFRU and Freshman-Rotto, further eroding the already fragile livelihood for agricultural workers through contractualization and destroying job security as well as the worsening economic conditions for the banana growers, all in the interests of foreign corporations and major governmental officials.

We also strongly condemn:

  • the massive logging and large scale export-oriented mining that have exacerbated climate change conditions for Pablo and ravaged already vulnerable environment,
  • the negligence and complicity of the Republic of the Philippines government in creating and worsening these conditions,
  • the lack of transparency and accountability for the government’s humanitarian relief efforts, and
  • the militarization by Philippines and US-intervention through Oplan Bayanihan in Pablo-affected areas.

We recognize that the situation in Southern Mindanao is a microcosm of human rights violations, government corruption and militarization throughout the Philippines. But despite their dire situation, the people of Southern Mindanao continue to struggle to build a hopeful future for themselves and their children. And if this is true in Southern Mindanao, it is also true across the Philippines. It is an inspiration of hope for people around the world who continue to struggle for justice and peace.

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Photos from “Mindanao, We Dream Your Dreams”

Special thanks to all who came and supported the Panaghiusa banquet fundraiser for the upcoming medical mission to the Philippines in July 2013.  Below are several photos from our event.

Panaghiusa banquet attendees at the Pasadena First United Methodist Church.

Panaghiusa banquet attendees at the Pasadena First United Methodist Church.

Poetry reading by Melissa Roxas.

Poetry reading by Melissa Roxas.

Performance by Feed the Feeble.

Performance by Feed the Feeble.

Performance by Feed the Feeble.

Performance by Feed the Feeble.

Poetry reading by Mary Bette Forte.

Poetry reading by Mary Bette Forte.

Poetry reading by Nicole Dumaguindin.

Poetry reading by Nicole Dumaguindin.

Performance by Lia Lohr.

Performance by Lia Lohr.

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