A faith-based organization in the Philippines called for a stop to what it called the “blatant red-tagging and display of violence” against indigenous peoples in the central part of the country.
In a statement issued on March 6, the group Living Laudato si’ said state forces should “dig into the roots of the marginalization and suffering” of indigenous communities instead of “red-tagging.”
The group made the call following the failed attempt on the life of lawyer Angelo Karlo Guillen, counsel of the 16 Tumandok tribal people who were earlier arrested for alleged links to communist rebels.
On Dec. 30, 2020, nine Tumandok leaders were killed while 16 others were arrested during a raid conducted by the national police.
On February 28, village chief Julie Catamin, a key witness in the defense for the tribe members, was killed by still unidentified assailants.
“These continuing attacks on indigenous people and lawyers, especially those opposing the Anti-Terror Law and development aggression must stop,” read the Living Laudato si’ statement.
Since 2016, the Tumandok tribe has been opposing the construction of a mega-dam in Iloilo province because it allegedly threatens to displace about 17,000 people in 16 tribal communities.
The church group renewed the call of seven Catholic bishops in the central Philippines for a “thorough investigation by an independent body” into the killings.
On January 17, the prelates in the Metropolitan See of Capiz and Jaro issued a pastoral statement urging the government to “stop the killings” and “respect the rights of people to live in peace.”
The pastoral letter also called on the Philippine military to stop its operations in tribal territories “so that our brothers and sisters, the Tumandoks, can go home and live in peace again.”
Leave a Reply