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Friday, April 12, 2024

Brave IP Leaders Killed, While Liberating The Poor & Oppressed

Kim’s Dream Orlan Ravanera
Datu Winefredo Sumael & Datu Saway Alim

A few months before finishing my 6-yr. term as Chairman of the Cooperative
Development Authority, I was going around the hinterlands touching base with different
tribes of the Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao to harness their collective potentials through
cooperativism. As you know, the Indigenous People are now the poorest of the poor, their
ancestral domains are being land-grabbed and when they would resist, they are being
erased from the face of the earth. In fact, in the last five years, some 63 IP leaders have
been killed shown in three (3) episodes in Ceazar Soriano’s PTV4 Program, “Magandang
Gabi Pilipinas!” The most recent killings happened on Dec. 13,2020, 6pm, in Purok 9,
Prakatahan, Pualas, Don Carlos, Bukidnon when two brave Datus by the name of Datu
Winefredo Sumael and Datu Saway Alim were brutally murdered on their way home. A day before the killing, (Dec.12 at 10am), I received a phone call from the two of them narrating
how their planted crops (sugar cane and pine-apple) were being harvested by armed men
and when their tribes tried to protect their crops, they were being harassed. I told them to
take some pictures to be shown during our National Virtual Summit entitled, “Lumad
Liberation Against Poverty and Oppression Through Cooperativism and Inidgenous Political
System.” At 6pm the following day, I got a phone from their tribal leaders reporting to me of the horrible deaths of the two Datus. I was so shocked to know of their deaths. They have become my close allies-advocates, attending every meeting, they were always there,
together with hundreds of their colleagues all over Mindanao, narrating how oppressed
they are. All of their stories have been documented and published carrying the title, “Agaw
Lupa, Agaw Tubig, Agaw Buhay!”

As my tribute to these two brave Datus, please allow me to share a poem as I gave
my firm salute and warm embrace to these IP leaders who have given their lives so that
others may live a dignified life. I believe there is no greater grandeur site on earth than
these leaders who have sacrificed so much to liberate the Indigenous Peoples from so much
poverty and oppression, amidst the morale collapse and religious apathy. The poem is
entitled, VERITAS LIBERABIT VOS: “My name is Veritas, so simple is my language, Mankind
runs after me because I am a previous possession, but to the rule of the oppressors, I am a threat, so I have to be killed or be imprisoned in the dungeon to silence me. But there will always be lovers of truth who will seek for me because they cannot live without my
presence. Many have marched to their death because of me. These oppressors do not
know that in the silence of the dungeon, I gain strength. One day I will burst out into the
open and liberate the poor and oppressed to unfetter them from diabolic mindset.”

Yes, let the truth set us all free. Free from so much outpourings of fake news; free
from so much advertisements that are burying us in so much consumerism and materialism; free from “big circus” called Philippine elections; free from a wrong development paradigm where only one percent of the population is in control; free from ecological disasters as the environment and the people have been sacrificed to the altar of greed and profit; and free from the statement that our country follows the rule of law. In my four decades of struggle to protect the environment, I found out that we have lost the 17 million hectares of dipterocarp forest, all in violations of existing laws be on logging or in mining. When we were implementing the Writ of Kalikasan since 2013, I, as chairman of Task Force Kinaiyahan found out that those doing illegal mining in the uplands of Cagayan de Oro were Chinese carrying only tourist visas and when they were arrested, no less than a high official accompanied them back to China instead of being imprisoned. Thus, I always feel nausea every time I hear the pronouncement that “in this country, no one is above the law, all must bow down to the majesty of the law because we follow the rule of law and not of men.” Why are we allowing commercial fishing boats and trawlers to rake our bays in the
municipal waters? All of these have been reported to the concerned agencies, but until now, nothing has been done! Rule of law? Why are we allowing the West Philippine Sea to serve the interest of powerful China? Ah, might is right?

“Agaw Lupa, Agaw Tubig, Agaw Buhay,” speaks well on how oppressed our
Indigenous Peoples are. What happened to the Indigenous People’s Right Act (IPRA Law)
that was enacted in 1997 to protect the rights of the Indigenous Peoples? Why are some
one thousand families of the Manobo Pulangiyon Tribe still living under shattered tents
beside the highway in Butong, Quezon, eating only once a day and all the children are
malnourished and sickly in the last five years because a powerful corporation illegally
transformed their ancestral domain into massive plantations? Why have we Filipinos
allowed the massive poverty oppression of the 15 million Indigenous Peoples in the so-
called Christian and civilized society with all eyes always on the never-ending pursuit of
wealth, fame and power which no les than King Solo9mon in Ecclesiastes described as
“meaningless, utterly meaningless.” It is so painful to note that there is so much veneration
to the profit motive that has already captured the mindset of all governments, all
institutions, all universities and even of religious groups whose main focus seems to be on
“collection, collection, collection.” We are so much buried in the fallacies of life and
religions. HOY GISING!!!!


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