Philippines: Indigenous peoples condemn military harassment of UP students
Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) condemned the harassment done against University of the Philippines students and four Ayta minors in a remote Ayta community in Porac, Pampanga by members of the Philippine Army.
“We vehemently condemn the harassment done against UP students by military personnel. This abrasive and violent attitude towards visitors to our communities is offensive to our people, and a violation of human rights. Equally condemnable is the military’s attitude towards the Ayta minors,” Piya Macliing Malayao of KAMP said.
According to KARAPATAN, the students were conducting field work in an Ayta settlement in Barangay Camias, Porac, Pampanga, when soldiers in plainclothes accosted University of the Philippines Diliman Community Development students Marie Gold Villar, Rafael Anton Dulce, two other students, and four Ayta children. The soldier, who identified themselves as ‘Paul’ and ‘Chris’ of ‘DPWH Region 3’ interrogated Villar and Dulce. ‘Chris’ then manhandled Dulce, and challenged him to a fistfight, he then shouted at the students for an hour, accusing them as members of the New People’s Army.
“There are very few people who dare study and assist indigenous peoples who live in far-flung places because of such conduct of the military. This incident mirrors the kind of life the Ayta people live, while they are in constant exposure to these fiends,” Malayao added.
According to KAMP, Barangay Camias and adjacent communities have been constantly militarized because of mining interests in Mt. Abo, which is ancestral territory of the Ayta people.
“We invite students, Church people, and advocates to Camias to gain support in opposing large-scale mines in the area, as it will displace indigenous peoples and destroy the environment. These actions by the military could be an attempt to scare off locals and supporters,” Malayao added. The group says an array of human rights violations against locals has been formerly documented.
“Despite the human rights abuses, we are determined to defend Camias against mining encroachment.”