Press Statement: Sillimanians Call for Justice for Lumad Refugees in Davao

Press Statement: Sillimanians Call for Justice for Lumad Refugees in Davao

Issue Date: 29 July 2015

Sillimanians Call for Justice for Lumad Refugees in Davao

Many among us in Silliman University, including myself, are saddened by the turn of events that happened on July 23, 2015 when elements of state security forces entered the premises of Haran Mission House owned by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. The act was carried out to purportedly “rescue” and send the 700 Lumads (Ata Manobo tribes) back to homes in Talaingod, Davao and San Fernando, Bukidnon.

The Lumads claimed they left their homes and sought refuge in Haran because of militarization and harassments they experienced in their areas. They claimed they were accused of being sympathizers of the New People’s Army when they refused to be recruited into ALAMARA, a paramilitary group supposedly organized by the Armed Forces in the Philippines. Furthermore, the Salugpungan schools established in 2003 with the assistance of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, and recognized in 2011 by the Department of Education were reportedly closed and were turned into military barracks.  
We are concerned that the well-being of the Lumad refugees accommodated in Haran Mission House has been threatened and put at risk. We pray for shalom, for peace for all Filipinos, particularly for the Lumad refugees. And so we call on the leaders of the government and its agencies, the civil society and church people to listen to the plea of the Lumad kinfolks, and help ensure that they are able to live peacefully in their communities. This means respecting the sanctity of Lumad life and culture, their well-being, their right to freedom from strife and security from any threat, and the right to find refuge where they feel secure, and the right to desist from being involved in certain mechanisms of the state.

Valuing the sacredness of life encompasses respecting the right of a person or a community to refuse to become member of any armed group. To value the sanctity of life further means making the much needed education available to Lumad children through their Salugpungan schools. We understand that these are the aspirations of the Talaingod Lumads, as human beings: to live a life of peace that is based on justice and righteousness.

We are appealing to all Sillimanians to send help to the UCCP Haran Church to help it help the refugees.