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Government ups harassment of Lumads

GINGOOG (Agencies) : The Rural Missionaries of The Philippines is demanding the unconditional release of a volunteer teacher, Daniel Lampusay, and his brother, Ejun, both of whom it claims were arrested illegally and are being held by the 58th Infantry Battalion.

Sister Francis Añover, the national coordinator of the Rural Missionaries, said in a statement on August 14, “We denounce the gross violation of the basic rights of the Lampusay brothers by the elements of the 58th Infantry Battalion. This is another desperate measure of the military to threaten the Lumad community in the area.”

CBCP News reported Sister Añover as saying that the Lampusay brothers, who are aged 22 and 18, were first picked up on August 3 at the local daycare centre of Barangay Hindangan in Gingoog City, which the military forces use as a detachment.

The group said they were transferred first to the police station in Medina, but are now detained at the Misamis Oriental Provincial Jail.

According to the missionary group, the spate of human rights abuses is part of the ongoing attacks on the local Lumad communities, as well as on the alternative learning schools in Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, Socsargen and Caraga regions they have sprung up recently.

The Rural Missionaries lament that the educational centres have been tagged by the Armed Forces of The Philippines as Communist-led schools. The teachers and students all complain about harassment due to continuing military operations in the area.

“It is lamentable that the military accuses them as members of the New People’s Army when they are deeply impoverished as farm workers in a coconut grove in the same sitio. We, as missionaries know the plight of the rural poor and their aspiration only is the up-lifting of their families from poverty and starvation,” Sister Añover explained.

“We demand their immediate and unconditional release, as our Holy Father Pope Francis opposed inequality as stated in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel). We hope the military heed the Holy Father’s call to allow their hearts to be touched and empathise with the rural poor indigenous people’s plight,” Sister Añover added.

A trained teacher, the older Lampusay brother was a volunteer in the Rural Missionaries’ Literacy-Numeracy Programme.

The two brothers are Higaonon residents of Sitio Minalwang in Barangay Bal-ason, Gingoog City.


This is another
desperate measure
of the military to threaten the Lumad community
in the area