Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 26 September 2015


It turns out that on Nov. 12, 2014, at the Tribal Hall in Sitio Patil, Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte, 42 tribal leaders of the Langilan Manobo tribe, including 23 datus, signed a resolution “declaring the New People’s Army (NPA) and its allied Civil Society Organizations (CSO) such that of (sic) Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), National Democratic Front (NDF) and Karadyawan-Kapalong, Karapatan-Davao, Pasaka Regional Lumad Conference, Radyo ni Juan-Tagum and Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation (MISFI) pas persona non grata.”

There followed a long list of 10 “whereas-es,” delineating the reasons for their stance, and a two-page attachment which further described 24 willful violations by the NPA and the allied CSOs of the six pillars of the Langilan Manobo tribe’s principles (Indigenous Beliefs Practices, Indigenous Knowledge and Education Practices, Customary Governance and Leadership, Traditional Economic and Health, Customary Defense and Security and Ancestral Territory).

Here are some of their grievances against the leftist groups: The NPA “forcibly told” the tribal elders that there are 10 sitios the NPA had already occupied, and the tribal leaders could do nothing about it; when Datu Bangu Bolyong put a boundary between his people and the NPA, the NPA told him that no one can prevent them, because all the mountains are theirs; the NPA threatened the residents of Sitios Kapatagan, Tawngatok and Patil with attacks—one in the morning, one at lunch, and one at dinner, respectively—if these residents didn’t “okey us.”

What these Langilan Manobo tribal leaders said obviously fell on deaf ears—unfortunately, both the government’s and the leftists’—because the Haran incident happened, and the exploitation of the lumad continues unabated. Read the lumad lips, Reader. They don’t want the NPA and their civil society allies to speak for them; they don’t want the “help” of the NPA and their civil society allies.

So why are the media full of stories spun by these CSO allies of the NPA, about how the lumad are suffering from military heavy-handedness? If not military, then paramilitary supposedly organized by the military, so they are one and the same. Why is it that the leftist version is so quickly adopted, and the lumad version ignored?

And if we are to ask the lumad, who would they prefer to go to bed with, the NPAs or the military/government forces? If they are to be made to choose, it seems they would choose the latter.

Here is the “United Stand of Talaingod Tribal Leaders” signed in the Tribal Hall, JBL Complex, Barangay Sto. Niño, Talaingod, Davao del Norte, on May 4, 2015, by 52 datus, among others. They are another group of lumad, but they have similar stories—that of exploitation by the NPA and its civil society allies.

The Talaingod statement talks about an education system that has been subverted by the NPA, and gives the specific example of one Asinad Bago, who has testified that the students in the Salugpungan Ta’tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (STICLC) are being taught to hate the government, and are being indoctrinated by the NPA, taught revolutionary songs, and taken out of class to join rallies in Davao and Arakan. (I think it was this boy who was interviewed by Tina Monzon Palma, and he sang our national anthem to different, rebel words.) The NPA, he said, had free access to the school. The boy has tried to transfer to a Department of Education school, but his report card was not released by the STICLC.

It is these STICLC supervisors who accused the 68th Infantry Battalion of harassment in Sitio Nasilaban in Barangay Palma Gil. But their charges were found to be baseless by the barangay council. And the tribal leaders staunchly back the military presence and its help to the community.

Also, the tribal leaders want the STICLC to be run by the DepEd, and it should be. Clearly, the tribal leaders have made their choice between the government and the NPA administrators.

My analysis: The ancestral land of the lumad is prime land—for logging and mining activities. The NPA wants control of it, and so, of course, do corporations interested in these activities. They may or may not be in collusion. But the NPA sees the lumad as ripe for exploitation—and among the first things it is tackling is the education of the lumad. He who controls the minds of the young will eventually control the community.

So the NPA is trying to take over the education, and even the cultural practices, of the lumad. The military is the only one standing in its way. So it must be dealt with. Thus come the charges of “militarization” and “enemies of the people.” Hogwash.

The NPA, according to the lumad, has killed 357 lumad between 1998 and 2008. No one is doubting the accuracy of that statement. The military, according to the NPA, has killed 50 lumad during P-Noy’s watch. The only question is: Are these lumad, or are these NPA wolves in lumad clothing?

Clearly, the lumad know what the game is. One can only hope that the rest of the Filipino people are just as intelligent.