The UP Diliman Gender Office (UPDGO) conducted a forum about extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in urban and rural communities on September 20 at the UPDGO Seminar Room, Benton Hall, UP Diliman, Quezon City.
“Nanay, Tatay, gusto kong tinapay, Nanay, Tatay, gusto kong MABUHAY” served as a venue for dialogue and psychosocial guidance for participants from Barangay UP Campus and Sitio Sandugo (Kampuhansa UP Diliman).
Facilitating the forum were: UPDGO’s Guidance Counselor and (OASH) Extension Specialist Prescilla Tulipat; Legal Consultant, Atty. Alnie Foja; Gender and Development Specialist, Cindy Cruz-Cabrera; and, Coordinator, Prof. Nancy Kimuell-Gabriel, in cooperation with the Bai Indigenous Women’s Network and the Barangay UP Campus Family Community Healing Center.
The participants expressed feelings of hurt, fear and anger over the killings of children, even as they also discussed community actions to address these issues. A candle lighting ceremony and call to action capped the day’s activities.
Fight for ancestral lands and safer communities
“How can we keep our communities safe? Do we still feel safe if the police and military are the ones committing or condoning the killings?” These were among the questions raised during the discussions, as the participants shared their own experiences in the context of the Martial Law era that began 45 years ago under the Marcos dictatorship, the Duterte administration’s drug war, and the Martial Law situation in Mindanao at present. Forum participants said there have been at least 13 recorded deaths in Barangay UP Campus attributed to the drug war. Meanwhile, women tribal leaders narrated how government and paramilitary groups have been committing violence on their communities since the Marcos era.
Bai Aida Seisa, a Bagobo leader from the Paquibato district, Davao City, recounted how she survived two massacres, the first in 1983 and then recently in 2015. She said on these separate incidents, her father, Amado Sandunan, a Bagobo leader who fought logging operations in their ancestral lands, and other villagers, were killed by paramilitary and government troops, because they were fighting for their natural resources-rich yutang kabilin, their ancestral lands.
Michelle Campos, Lumad youth leader, narrated their plight after her father, Lumad leader Dionel Campos, grandfather, Datu Juvello Sinzo, and school director, Emerito Samarca were killed by paramilitary troops in Lianga, Surigao del Sur in September 2015.
Bai Kakay Tolentino, a Dumagat and the national coordinator of BAI, said indigenous peoples are fighting for survival and defending their ancestral lands from corporations and militarization because land is their source of life. She said they have also learned to fight for their lives, united as a tribe, as a community, and as members of broader alliances with common goals.
BAI members arrived with the delegates of the Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya 2017 on August 31 for the three weeks-long Kampuhansa UP Diliman along C.P. Garcia Avenue.
During the candle lighting ceremony, the forum speakers and participants called for solidarity, healing, justice, and for an end to the killings, as they pledged to join protest actions against violence and creeping tyranny. (Fred Dabu, UP MPRO)