Free legal aid

IBP commits help to Lumads allegedly displaced by militarization
THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) will offer free legal aid to Lumads in light of the allegation of military hamletting of their villages.

“We are here to assure them that the IBP will be there to support them all the way and the justice would be served to the Lumads,” said Rosario Setias-Reyes, IBP national president.

He said that if the militarization allegations are true, those responsible should be held accountable for the displacement of thousands of Lumads and the deaths of some civilians.

Sentias-Reyes together with Central Luzon governor Jose De la Rama, Jr.; Eastern Mindanao governor Caesar Europa, and Davao City Chapter president Marie Dinah Tolentino-Fuentes conducted a dialogue with Lumad leaders at the UCCP Haran yesterday.

In November, the IBP also joined the Manilakbayan camp-out protest of some 700 indigenous Lumads at the Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila.

“When I left that place, I told them to give me documents so we can study their cases but they didn’t give me anything,” she said. “That’s why we decided to come to them so we could personally ask for documents.”

In July this year, the riot police and the Lumads—along with some activists—exchanged blows when the authorities tried to enter the compound of UCCP Haran, which at its peak was housing more than 700 Lumads.

The IBP president also said that she will be calling a special meeting with IBP governors in Mindanao in January to come up with a concrete action and timeline of their strategy for the filing of cases.

Lawyer Geroncio R. Aguio, regional director of the NCIP-XI, earlier said that attaining peace and declaring indigenous communities across the country as “peace zones” means pulling out the military troops and the NPA, as well as dismantling paramilitary groups.

“There are some who will visit the office to complain but when we ask them to formalize their complaints so we can give the proper resolution, they can’t answer our questions properly,” Aguio added.

Earlier this year, hundreds of Lumads from the Eastern Mindanao evacuated in the city claiming that their schools have become the battleground in the anti-insurgency campaign of the military and the paramilitary groups were allowed to run rampant on the communities in support to the government’s operation.

However, the Armed Forces of the Philippines earlier dismissed the allegations.

“The Municipal Tribal Council of Elders memorandums for the closure of Salugpongan Ta’Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (STTICLC) in Talaingod dated 25 April 2015 and 04 May 2015 have affirmed the perilous teachings of the school to the pupils,” said Lt. Vergel Lacambra, former information officer of 10th infantry Division.