DAVAO City, July 18, 2017–Lumads coming from different areas in Mindanao recently converged in Davao, calling for an end to martial law, which President Rodrigo Duterte recently wants lawmakers to extend by another 60 days.
Displaced volunteer teachers and Lumad junior and senior high school students encamped in front of the Presidential Guest House in Panacan on July 8, which Br. Mark Zarate, OFM, said “is their way of calling the President to end martial law and to disband the members of the paramilitary.”
According to the Franciscan, the Lumads fled their homes where the presence of the military and Alamara, a paramilitary group, traumatized them, hindering them from holding classes.
According to the Save Our Schools Network – Southern Mindanao, areas like Davao, Paquibato, and Tugbok in Davao; Tagum in Davao del Norte; New Bataan in Compostela Valley; and Baganga in Davao Oriental report cases of threats, harassment, and intimidation by the military and Alamara. Baganga also has cases of enforced disappearance and illegal arrests.
The military and Alamara have become “more aggressive”, said Zarate, since the declaration of the martial law. Alamara is a counter-insurgency group composed of Lumads, whom the military support with arms.
Several members of the religious present at the solidarity event also gave the students art therapy to help them process their recent experiences.
“Through art therapy, students are able to creatively expressed their traumatic experiences which eventually enabled us to know more of their stories and help them see hope amidst their condition,” said Zarate. (Carl Jaime Bordeos/CBCPNews)