An indigenous peoples (IP) leader from Mindanao, lambasted communist groups as she called for support from Filipinos in France to raise awareness on the atrocities committed by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
“Hindi ko ipapahamak sarili ko kung ‘di totoo ang sinasabi ko. Hindi lang kami tumatayo sa tribo namin, para rin sa ating bayan. ‘Yung pamilya niyo sa Pilipinas sana sabihan niyo (I won’t put my life in danger if all that I’m saying are all lies. We’re not here just for our tribe, but also for our country),” said Bae Magdalina Iligan, of the Mamanwa Manobo Tribe, during an engagement with members of the Filipino community in Paris, France on Sept. 30.
Iligan said she witnessed how the rebel group executed members of her family, and recalled how her father, throughout her life, told her to stay silent after the deaths of some of their family members.
“Apat na uncle ko ang pinatay (Four of my uncles were killed),” she said. “Ganyan sila kaberdugo, kahit kamag-anak mo pa. ‘Pag sinabi nilang may kasalanan sa kanila, ipapapatay (That’s how cruel they are, even if the concerned is your relative. If they say that person wronged them, they kill them).”
For Iligan, her fervent wish is to take back what’s truly theirs — their traditions and ancestral domain.
“Ang gusto lang namin ay ipreserba ang maganda naming kultura, pero paano kung pinapatay na po kami ng CPP-NPA, na hanggang ngayon nandiyan pa rin sa amin (What we want is to preserve our beautiful culture, but how can we do that if the CPP-NPAs are killing us, that until they are still here?),” she said.
Another tribal leader, Bae Chiary Balinan, also shared her struggles in the hands of the CPP-NPA, as she appealed to international groups to back them in their campaign against communist insurgency in the Philippines.
“Sana po suportahan niyo kami, hindi po kami pumunta para manghingi ng pera dito. Alam niyo po ang hirap pumunta dito, maraming adjustment dahil hindi naman puwedeng ang Amerikano bisayain mo. Sobrang hirap po pero tiniis namin dahil ang pinangarap lang po namin ay ang kapayapaan po ng aming community (I hope that you support us, we did not come here to ask for money. It’s difficult to be in a foreign place, there are a lot of adjustments, we can’t use our language to talk to the foreigners, but we endure this because our hope is to attain peace in our community),” she said.
‘Duterte gave us hope’
While able to visit places abroad to tell their stories, Balinan said it also pains her to see President Rodrigo Duterte get criticized.
“‘Pag nagpupunta sa ibang lugar, ang sinasabi sa Pilipinas ay mamamatay-tao si Duterte, pero kami kaya kami naglakas-loob na pumunta dito dahil naramdaman namin na minahal kami ng presidente na ‘yan, kasi taga-Davao kami (When we go to places, what they say about the Philippines is that (President Rodrigo) Duterte is a killer, but he’s the one who gave us the will to tell our story because we feel that he loves us),” she said.
Datu Nestor Apas of the Langilan Manobo Tribe of Davao Del Norte, for his part, said he sees the visible implementation of development projects in their community, expressing his hopes that government efforts won’t go to waste.
Apas said some elders in their community highly appreciated the initiatives led by the administration.
“Nainspire kami sa presidente pati sa community namin. Yong nakatanggap, nahiya na ngayon lang kami nakatanggap ng ganitong proyekto. Ito lang ang pag-asa para makatanim kami (We are inspired by our President and the community. We feel humbled that we have only received these projects now. These are our hope for us to plant),” he added.
Halt foreign funding
Datu James Binayao, a leader of the Manobo-Talaandig Tribe in Maramag, Bukidnon, underscored that existing issues with the communist armed movement will continue so long as groups linked to it are supported and funded by development agencies abroad.
He then requested Filipinos present at the gathering to help them raise awareness against the deception of the communist armed movement.
“Isa po talaga sa pinakaproblema namin ay patuloy pa rin ang mga CPP-NPA sa community, hindi sila mapuksa ng gobyerno, dahil ito sa mga pondo na naggagaling sa ibang bansa papunta sa aming community (One of our problems is the foreign funding for our communities funneled to the CPP-NPA),” he said.
“Sana masabi niyo sa kasamahan niyo sa Europa na ito ang nagyayari, na sana tingnan ang mga tulong na ibinibigay sa IP (I hope that you could help tell our fellow Filipinos here about the situation on the ground, tell them to look carefully on what they donate),” he added.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)