U.P. Diliman, Quezon City – Contingents from indigenous groups in Mindanao held a press conference in Vinzons Hall to intensify their call for justice and accountability for the deaths of Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos, and Juvello Sinzo, as well as for the violent attacks by military and paramilitary forces that led to the forced evacuation of thousands of individuals from Lumad communities in Surigao del Sur.

Militarization and paramilitary operations in Lumad communities all over Mindanao is seen by Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (KALUMARAN), a Mindanao-wide alliance of regional indigenous groups, as a move to threaten the Lumad who are defending their ancestral land and are therefore opposing.

In response to the AFP stating that Lumad communities have long been are victims of exploitation from leftist armed groups, “Ang katutubo ay hindi biktima dahil simula’t sapul ay nakikibaka na kami para sa lupang ninuno. Marami kaming organisasyon at matagal nang nakikibaka ang aming komunidad,” Kerlan Fanagel, chairperson of PASAKA responded.

Lumad leaders continue the calls for the pull-out of military troops in schools and communities, disarmament of paramilitary units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), dropping of all trumped-up charges against Lumad, and an end to mining operations that threaten the environment and their ancestral domain.