LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Lumad rights are human rights

We are disgusted by the unnecessary deaths of Syrain refugees, as we should. But something equaly atrocious is happening closer to home.

Last Sept.1, Bagani paramilitary forces executed Lumad tribal leader Dionel Campos and alternative school executive director Emerito Samarca in front of their families and their community. Their crime, speaking up for the Lumads and demanding for basic human rights, their right to live in their own lands, to have an education, the right to live.

This doesn’t just happen to community leaders. Scores of Lumad youth have been shot, tortured and raped for being suspected supporters for the National People’s Army. Lumad families are regularly threated with violence and forced to leave their homes.

It’s easy to point fingers at the military, the NPA or the government as the perpetrators. We have eye witnesses and evidence for that. But the true source of the problem is something that all Filipinos suffer, the culture of impunity.
Somewhere along the line, we have become a society that accepts that justice is only for the few, that only those who are rich enough or powerful enough can have it.

We are a society that accepts that it’s the right of the powerful to silence those who oppose them.

We are a society that have chosen to be silent in fear that we will be next or in frustration because we believe that nothing will change.

We are a society that have embodied the statement “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

We’re all suffering from injustice everyday. It’s hard to ask for justice for a group of people if we’re having a hard time finding justice for ourselves.

But it’s only when we choose to suffer in silence that we allow impunity to win. If we choose to speak up the truth and use our truth to fight for what’s right, we bring ourselves closer to ending impunity and bringing justice for all. Whether it’s gender rights, human trafficking, or the Lumad, let’s bring the truth to light so we’d have no choice but to acknowledge it. Let’s bring the truth to light to inspire dreamers, thinkers and change makers to take action and make a change.

Let’s fight against all forms of the impunity, but as a nation let’s all unite to speak up for the Lumads. The Lumads are more than just relics of the past. They ARE our ancestors. They are the first Filipinos. Everything we experience and celebrate as “Pinoy Pride” stems from their culture, their lands, their generosity and their existence. The issues between the Lumad people and the government is complicated and far reaching. But regardless of politics, we need to recognize the fact that Lumad lives matter and they are entitled to the same human rights that every Filipino experiences.

We demand human rights for the Lumad. Stop the senseless killings and human rights atrocities against the Lumad and their advocates. We demand justice for the Lumad, who don’t have a voice, who are slowly being destroyed, our ancestors, because we, as Filipinos, believe that Lumad lives matter.

Let’s Fight for #LumadRights, Fight for #HumanRights.

DAKILA Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism is a group of artists, students and individuals committed to advocatingsocial consciousness formation among both their industry peers and their immediate audiences.

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