Bakwit communities demand: We want to return home to our land

Bakwit picket in front of NCIP office

Bakwit picket in front of NCIP office

Bakwit picket in front of NCIP office

A month before the Philippine government undergoes the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Karapatan, with representatives from the evacuees in Caraga and Bukidnon, raised the issue of internally displaced persons or internal refugees before the diplomatic missions of the European Union, Spain, France, and Netherlands to the Philippines.

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan spokesperson said that, “the European Union representatives are aware that the Philippines will go through the second cycle of review in the UPR. They promised the evacuees that they will look into the issues we have raised and will study the possible steps they will take.” 

The evacuees raised the issue of intense military combat operations and bombings in peasant and indigenous communities and the consequent forced evacuations; the threat of displacement due to the entry of large-scale mining operations. 

Karapatan also brought to the attention of the EU the alarming trend of human rights violations involving minors such as extrajudicial killings (EJKs), rape, illegal arrests and detention, and indiscriminate firing, among others, due to the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan. 

With the Karapatan lobby group was Sharon Liguyon, wife of the slain indigenous leader Jimmy Liguyon of Bgy. Dao in San Fernando, Bukidnon. Sharon Liguyon appealed for help for the immediate arrest of Alde Salusad, leader of a paramilitary group closely associated with the military. Salusad remains at large while Liguyon’s clan left the community and evacuated to the provincial capital because of death threats from Salusad’s group. The EU representatives said they had previously expressed their concern on the death of Liguyon. 

“The intensifying rights violations, including EJKs, forced evacuation due to intense military operations and transgressions on children’s rights, just goes to show the accountability of Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino in continuing the terror and violence perpetuated by the previous Arroyo administration,” Palabay said. Karapatan gave an individual submission to the UNHRC for the UPR of the Philippines and it will likewise lead a delegation of people’s and faith-based organizations when the review sessions in Geneva, Switzerland will be conducted in May 29, 2012. Karapatan’s submission may be read through the link:
The evacuees from Caraga and Bukidnon also met with the Sec. Jesse Robredo of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), with Commissioner Mamawag of the Commission on Human Rights and Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr., chairperson of the House Committee on National Cultural Communities, to bring to their attention the negligence and the inhumane treatment of officials from their regional counterparts.  

The meetings with the EU, DILG and CHR were among the series of activities the 10-person delegation from Caraga and Bukidnon in Manila to bring the issue of internal displacement to the attention of the national government and also to gather the support of various non-government organizations based in Metro Manila. 

This morning, the delegation together with the Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) will conduct a picket-dialogue at the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). Tomorrow, they will join workers led by the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) for the Labor Day rallies.