The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) on Tuesday, Feb. 16, condemned the violent intrusion of the elements of the Philippine National Police Regional Office in Cebu into the University of San Carlos-Talamban Campus where the Lumad Bakwit School is taking refuge.
Bishop Reuel Marigza, the secretary general of the NCCP, described the intrusion of the PNP as a clear manifestation of the government’s “disregard to the rights and lives of indigenous peoples, especially the Lumad children who are already under constant and intense distress since they have been uprooted from their ancestral lands on several occasions.”
According to NCCP, the PNP barged into the campus on Feb. 15 in an alleged “rescue operation” for minors allegedly kidnapped by progressive groups. “This is not the first. They did the same to the Lumads who have sought a safe place in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran Center in Davao. In their quest for a more peaceful place, away from their military-occupied ancestral lands, the Lumads have no choice but to flee and go to places where they feel that they are safe. It is just abhorrent and unacceptable for us churches to see the government’s relentless attacks to their lives and communities,” said Marigza in a statement.
The violent raid in Cebu, he said, showed how the government can conveniently assault national minorities even under the care of sanctuaries and havens in the guise of ‘rescue operations.”
Bishop Marigza said: “This pseudo ‘rescue operations’ is clearly a violation of the rights of our Lumad children and their teachers and to the whole Lumad communities who have suffered decades-long struggles in defense of their ancestral land, life and their education.”The NCCP expressed their solidarity with the Lumad children in their struggle for their land and their rights to education.
“We join the call to end militarization in Mindanao and to save Lumad schools. We likewise call for the safe and immediate release of the 25 students including their elders and their teachers who were illegally detained from this violent police raid”, Marigza said.
The NCCP is the largest aggrupation of mainline Protestant and non-Roman Catholic churches in the Philippines.