DAVAO CITY —More than 70 indigenous organizations from across Asia urged President Benigno Aquino III to put an end to the killings and attacks against the Lumad of Mindanao.
In a Letter of Appeal submitted on October 20, the Thailand-based Asia Indigenous People’s Pact (AIPP) appealed to President Aquino III not to let “Lito Abion and the three Higaonon men join the statistics of killed and abused Lumad human rights defenders and community members.”
Indigenous organizations from countries such as Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Nepal, endorsed the Appeal published by the AIPP. Groups from France, United Kingdom and Australia also endorsed the Appeal.
Sr. Ma. Famita Somogod, coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines said Abion, 44, “is a Manobo human rights defenders from San Luis, Agusan del Sur killed by believed-to-be state security forces on September 28.”
“The three Higaonon men, on the other hand, are members an indigenous community in Claveria, Misamis Oriental, tortured by elements of the 5th Infantry Battallion of the Philippine Army on the same day,” she said in a statement.
The appeal expressed alarmed over the spate of killings happening under the watch of President Aquino, aside from the “hundreds of cases of harassments and arbitrary detentions and displacement of thousands of Lumads now living in evacuation camps across the region.”
The AIPP called for an investigation on the roles of both paramilitary groups and the Armed Forces of the Philippines on these violations.
It also urged the President “to take immediate measures to disband all paramilitary groups, whether these are within the investment defense forces or not, and revoke the Executive Order 546, which legitimizes formation of such paramilitary groups.”
The AIPP also reminded the Philippine government in its obligation to protect and respect the rights of the indigenous peoples under its own laws and its obligation to fulfill its international human rights commitments.