Karapatan decries attacks on UCCP-Haran, Lumad evacuees; calls for the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC

Karapatan deplores the attack of paramilitary group Alamara on the more than 500 Lumad evacuees, including at least 236 children and infants, and individuals housed at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines-Haran (UCCP-Haran) in Davao City this morning, January 25, 2019. 

Around 50 men including members of paramilitary group Alamara and suspected State agents in plainclothes, have torn down the walls of the UCCP Haran compound in Davao City. The perpetrators also brought wirecutters and surrounded the compound, carrying placards with texts vilifying the UCCP. Some members of the paramilitary group entered the compound, while the Lumad evacuees went to the UCCP office building to take refuge. The rights group likewise noted that police present in the UCCP compound were complicit to the attack, refusing to apprehend members of the Alamara. 

This comes 10 days following the resolution passed by the Region XI Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) demanding the UCCP Haran's total closure.

Karapatan reiterated that the continued displacement of the Lumad are due to the intensified militarization in their communities, as well as the attacks and threats against their lives and livelihood. The Duterte government has long desired to undermine the resistance of Lumad communities, including delegitimizing their struggle for self-determination.  

The National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and its local counterpart in the Southern Mindanao region are undoubtedly behind this latest attack. They have repeatedly incited violence against the UCCP and the Lumad evacuees, as they are also moving towards the closure of the said compound. 

Lumad evacuees in the UCCP Haran fear that the forced entry of Alamara members in the compound will provide an opportunity to plant evidence and justify the entry of State forces in the sanctuary as well as its closure.

Karapatan strongly reiterates its condemnation of the RPOC - Region XI's resolution recommending the UCCP Haran's closure which was forwarded to the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) of Region XI for "appropriate legal action."

We are likewise calling on the Commission on Human Rights to take action against these latest forms of violence against indigenous people and church workers. Through its regional office, the CHR has conducted inspections in the UCCP Haran compound and in other offices of progressive groups in Davao City in November 2019, and it can very well attest to the fact that there are no irregularities in the said compound. The CHR should also ensure the safety of those in the sanctuary-compound, as the evacuees have been repeatedly subjected to numerous forms of violations by State forces. 

We demand that the Duterte administration, the whole NTF-ELCAC and its instrumentalities keep their hands off the Lumad evacuees and the UCCP. This latest attack is yet another reason why the NTF-ELCAC should be abolished as it is nothing but a terrorist gangster of militarists and sycophants. This latest orchestrated attack proves that martial law in Mindanao may have been lifted on paper but the entire country remains under the firm grip of a de facto military rule.