In visiting Davao and Southern Mindanao communities, we, 39 international delegates from the 2013 International Solidarity Mission (ISM) for the Survivors of Typhoons Pablo and Crising and Human Rights Violations in Paquibato in Southern Mindanao witnessed how Pablo survivors are rebuilding their communities and restoring hope for themselves and for us.
The ISM sponsored humanitarian relief including basic services such as medical, dental and psycho-social services, basic infrastructure for schools and resources for sustainable agriculture projects, providing support for the most basic human needs that the government relief efforts fail to address.
The Talaingod team consisted of 45 delegates and provided a medical mission, psycho-social therapy for children, and distribution of farm tools and seedings in a Manobo Lumad community. The medical mission served nearly 800 individuals within 14 hours. They received free treatment and vitamins.
The Panansalan team consisted of 29 delegates who provided a school nursery, school farm, corn harvesting, psycho-social therapy, and launched the tree rain-forestation campaign in a Mandaya Lumad community. The delegates took part in school rebuilding due to militarization and large-scale mining.
The Osmeña-San Miguel team visited the Sumifru and Freshman-Rotto striking workers. The team heard workers who stopped working due to Pablo since the banana companies were attempting to negate their pre-Pablo pay and to push for a lower piece-meal pay. The workers are fighting for getting their jobs back and having decent living and working conditions. In an immediate act of solidarity, the international delegates offered a collection of 12,000 pesos to support the striking workers with rice for their families and closed the evening in Barangay Andap with an international solidarity night.
In Paquibato, we have witnessed the palpable violation of the people's civil and political rights, the terror in which children, and their mothers had to live through as they face military harassment and psychological torture because their father, husband or families are with the New Peoples' Army. We support hence, the passage of the local ordinance Rebelyn Code which upholds the principles of the CAHRIHL.
We salute the people's courageous response in organizing themselves to rebuild their communities in the aftermath of Pablo through rebuilding Lumad schools, food security, sustainable agriculture and rainforestation programs and defending their ancestral lands that are currently the most militarized region of the country. As international witnesses for peace and justice, we draw inspiration from the survivors as they continue to restore hope.
We declare our international solidarity pledge to provide stronger support for the Pablo and Crising survivors and victims by being more active in campaigns against corporate logging, foreign-dominated mining operating in Pablo affected communities and in campaigns that expose the militarization and corruption of relief assistance, human rights violations of Pablo survivors, and to oppose the planned civil military operations of US military troops in these communities.
We also send a special message of solidarity to the Pablo survivors in Baganga, Davao Oriental. We were not able to witness rebuilding efforts in Baganga because the Philippine military continues to rule that community under a de-facto martial law, occupying the municipal government offices and civilian communities, making it very difficult for even national interfaith delegations to bring humanitarian relief to Davao Oriental.
Having witnessed all of these gross violations of civil and political, social, economic and cultural rights of the people in Mindanao, we hold President Aquino accountable for the criminal neglect of the Filipino people, especially the victims of Pablo and Crising. The human rights violations in Southern Mindanao range from the government's criminal neglect of the basic needs of the people to militarization of civilian communities and military occupation of civilian structures such as schools and barangay halls. We condemn these on-going international war crimes. These operations resulted in furthering military hamletting, harassment, and human rights abuses in the most storm-ravaged areas.
We further condemn the Philippine government for enacting laws that exacerbate the plunder of natural resources and land-grabbing, violating the economic, cultural and political rights of the people to live a decent and sustainable life
We likewise condemn the government's collusion with foreign multi-national corporations such as SUMIFRU and Freshman-Rotto, further eroding the already fragile livelihood for agricultural workers through contractualization and destroying job security as well as the worsening economic conditions for the banana growers, all in the interests of foreign corporations and major governmental officials.
We also strongly condemn:
* the massive logging and large scale export-oriented mining that have exacerbated climate change conditions for Pablo and ravaged already vulnerable environment,
* the negligence and complicity of the Republic of the Philippines government in creating and worsening these conditions,
* the lack of transparency and accountability for the government's humanitarian relief efforts, and
* the militarization by Philippines and US-intervention through Oplan Bayanihan in Pablo-affected areas.
We recognize that the situation in Southern Mindanao is a microcosm of human rights violations, government corruption and militarization throughout the Philippines. But despite their dire situation, the people of Southern Mindanao continue to struggle to build a hopeful future for themselves and their children. And if this is true in Southern Mindanao, it is also true across the Philippines. It is an inspiration of hope for people around the world that who continue to struggle for justice and peace. ###
Rev. Frank Wulf, United Methodist Church, California-Pacific Annual Conference - firstname.lastname@example.org
Barug Katawhan, (People Rise Up)