LUMADS IN DEEP CRISIS THRU SLOW GENOCIDE
Open Letter to President Duterte
By Bernie V. Lopez, email@example.com
Dear Mr. President, please, I beg you. You have warned the Lumads (Indigenous people of Mindanao) not to join the NPA rebels. You must also warn them not to join the AFP soldiers. The survival of the Lumads depends on their neutrality.
In the last two decades, the Lumads are being massacred into extinction. The AFP and their Baganis (Lumad CAFGU) kill Lumads who side with the NPA on mere suspicion. The NPA and their Lumad supporters kill Lumads who are known supporters or informants for the AFP. In the end, Lumads kill Lumads – Lumads for AFP and for NPA kill each other while the AFP and the NPA drink beer in their camps. The Lumads of Mindanao are now in deep crisis. They are caught in between. They become the pawns of either side in a never-ending war. The only way out is to stay neutral.
When the AFP kills pro-NPA Lumads, the more Lumads turn to the NPA for protection, the more the AFP kills them as their numbers grow. It is a vicious cycle of escalation. When the NPA kills Lumad informants of the AFP, the more they turn to the AFP for protection, the more the NPA kills them as their numbers grow. Lumads turn to kill each other in an eternal escalation until there are no more Lumads left. It has evolved into a ‘slow genocide’ in the last two decades.
You offered to give the Lumads livelihood if they join the AFP. The Lumads do not turn to the NPA because they are hungry. They do so because they are oppressed by the AFP. Poverty is not the cause. Your promise of livelihood is good, but it is not the solution. Livelihood will just be destroyed by the internal war.
There have been short-lived but successful civilian-led PEACE ZONES in Lumad territories in the past, as in the Arakan Valley, and Sagada. AFP and NPA are not allowed to go into these zones with arms. It was undermined by suspicions of violations from both sides. The peace zone concept can be revived, but there must be sincerity on both the AFP and NPA sides. This is the only hope for the Lumads in crisis. Otherwise, they become an endangered species.
Mr. President, you must do everything in your power to tell both the AFP and the NPA to stop recruiting Lumads. You can order the AFP directly, and suggest to the NPA through the peace talks. You must also revive the peace zone concept. If these last solutions are impossible, then the on-going ‘slow genocide’ is unstoppable. There will be no more Lumads.
by Bernie V. Lopez, firstname.lastname@example.org
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