The Malaya Movement condemns the government organized smear campaign being conducted by the Mindanao Indigenous People’s Council of Elders (MIPCEL) against Philippine human rights groups and cause-oriented organizations such as BAYAN USA, Migrante USA, Anakbayan USA, Gabriela USA, ICHRP, and our own organization, Malaya Movement. Projecting themselves as representatives with the authority to speak on behalf of the Lumad peoples, MIPCEL is currently on a speaking tour in the US, holding often secretive and misleading forums wherein they peddle misinformation about the nature of the threats that the Lumad currently face. Downplaying the atrocities of the Philippine military, mining companies, and other multinational corporations encroaching on the ancestral domain of the Lumad, MIPCEL instead demonizes alternative Lumad schools and other progressive organizations––including the Malaya Movement.
But MIPCEL’s provocations fall flat in the face of the facts: 350,000 bombs dropped across Mindanao by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), 400,000 people displaced, and 18,000 soldiers currently occupying indigenous people’s lands under President Duterte’s proclamation of martial law.
That MIPCEL goes to such great lengths to obscure the role of state forces in the destruction of indigenous life in the Philippines is no accident: MIPCEL has a “Memorandum of Understanding with the Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.” Under this agreement, MIPCEL negotiates contracts between indigenous tribes and private business, coercing leaders to sign away their land. They are also tasked with recruiting indigenous people into paramilitary groups like Magahat-Bagani and ALAMARA, who continue to terrorize their communities on behalf of the AFP in order to clear the land for big business.
Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), who is currently accompanying the delegation espoused in an article that, “President Rodrigo Duterte paved the way for the tribal leaders’ voices to be heard. Through Executive Order 70, the President created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which institutionalizes a “whole-of-nation approach” in attaining an inclusive and sustainable peace.” This proves that the MIPCEL tour is government organized and part of President Duterte’s increasingly brutal counterinsurgency campaign, Oplan Kapanatagan (Operational Plan “Stability”)
Meanwhile, the various progressive organizations that MIPCEL and the Philippine government vilify have coordinated extensively with the Save Our Schools campaign, a network of over 200 schools in Mindanao actively working to expand access to education for Lumad children in the region, regions that have been neglected by the Philippine government for so long.
The MIPCEL tour coincides with the United Nations Human Rights Council’s decision to launch an independent investigation of the human rights violations carried out by the Duterte regime. MIPCEL’s tour, then, is best understood as a feeble attempt by the Duterte administration to shift public opinion in the international community––a community from which the Philippine government grows increasingly alienated with every step towards all-out dictatorship. Malaya Movement condemns the fascist presidency and invites all to show up for the mobilizations at the People’s State of the Nation Address on July 22nd, being held in major cities across the US in a coordinated call to OUST DUTERTE and bring a just and lasting peace to the Philippines!