A group of Lumads from Talaingod, Davao Del Norte faced the media on Thursday, Dec. 06, and condemned former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro for allegedly abducting members of the indigenous group, including minors.
The group, headed by Mindanao Indigenous People Conference for Development Chair Datu Joel Unad, revealed that members of the New People’s Army (NPA) target natives since they are un-educated.
“Nandito kami upang malaman ninyo na sobra na ang sitwasyon sa Mindanao,” Unad told reporters covering the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
They said that the NPA teaches them to rebel against their family, and to join protest movements. They have also been taught to make weapons and to fight against soldiers.
One of the Lumads even sang the version of the Philippine National Anthem taught to them by the communist rebels. The said version of Lupang Hinirang will be sang when the NPA has overthrown the government.
Unad also called for other members of their tribe to surrender to the government and to change their way of living.
Late November, authorities arrested Ocampo, Castro and 16 others at a checkpoint in Talaingod, Davao Del Norte for human trafficking and kidnapping allegations.
The group was found to have been transporting at least 14 minors, reported to be students of the Salugpungan Community Learning Center (SCLC), without the consent of the parents or the Municipal Social Welfare Office.
They were released after posting Php 8,000 bail each at the Tagum City Trial Court.
The group has claimed that they rescued the said minors after a paramilitary group known as ‘Almara’ padlocked their school. They also said that they are part of a national solidarity mission delivering food and school supplies to the Lumad community.
Following their release, the group of Ocampo said that they will file counter-charges against the police that arrested them.