Military’s plan to train 300 Lumads hit

THE NEW People’s Army (NPA) has slammed the latest program of the military to employ 300 Lumads as soldiers in two regions in Mindanao.

“It is highly despicable for the Armed Forces of the Philippines – 10th Infantry Division to conscript young Lumad people to join its brutal counter-revolutionary war in the countryside,” Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of NPA- Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command, said in a statement.

The group opposed military’s move to employ the Lumads and deploy them in Regions XI and XII, the areas covered by 10th Infantry Division. The Lumads are scheduled to be trained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) within this month.

“The move is a desperate attempt of the AFP to score military points in the battlefield where its troops are required to have mastery of terrain, high tolerance for sacrifice and to exhibit innate courage—attributes that they sorely lack and want to exploit from the Lumad youth,” Sanchez said.

But Shirley Iguianon, chief of technical and management services division of National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, said the program is anchored on the goal to provide employment opportunities for the tribal members. She said they ensure that the program will have cultural sensitivity.

“This is an employment opportunity to address the livelihood of the IPs,” Iguianon said. She said this was a result of their request to AFP that they should allocate at least five people of their force to Lumads.

The Lumads, she said, have to deploy in their ancestral domain.

Cpt. Jerry Lamosao, spokesperson of 10th Infantry Division, said the program is to give way for the IPs to provide the opportunity to work in the military even without passing the exam or meeting the age and height requirements.

“We have yet to determine on which particular place that the Lumads would be deployed,” Lamosao said. He said those who want to be avail of this opportunity has to be certified by their tribal leaders that they are part of the tribe.

The maximum service allowed for the IPs in this program is six years.

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