The invitation came late, but that wasn’t the reason why representatives of 700 Lumad at the #Manilakbayan2015 snubbed Rep. Nancy Catamco’s hearing on indigenous peoples.
Makabayan, the militant bloc at the House of Representatives also ignored Catamco.
First, there is a pending resolution for a hearing to hear the complaint seeking her ouster as chair of the House Committee on Indigenous Peoples. Second, Catamco and her allies, during her privilege speech, had called for a multi-committee investigation.
Makayaban legislators agreed to that. It would have tackled the Lumad problem in a comprehensive manner, with the committees on IPs, human rights, environment, national security and practically all aspects of governance listening to the Lumad themselves.
Catamco bewailed the absence of Makabayan, saying solutions cannot be solved by protests and calling her hearing the right venue to seek resolution of the Lumad problem.
Farcical and hypocritical. This is how Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate described the ongoing hearing on the lumad issues at the House Committee on National Cultural Communities led by Rep. Nancy Catamco.“How can the lumad bakwits expect an impartial hearing in an atmosphere where Rep. Catamco is the principal accuser, witness and the judge rolled into one?” Rep. Zarate said.
Who is Catamco? She is the Liberal Party representative from North Cotabato. She likes to call herself diwata (goddess) in her Facebook page and press releases.
She is the woman who came and tried to “save” the Lumad at Haran, bringing with her military officers and the Alamara — the same forces who forced out the Lumad from their villages by dint of arrests, tortures and killings. She brought the same forces who forcibly took over schools and homes of the Lumad in the name of “peace”.
In her zeal, Catamco refused to listen to the displaced Lumad — insisted they first return home before any of their plaints are listened to. She harangued them and then called them stinky. (Said the Lumad: Of course we are; evacuation is a difficult time, but we would rather be here than die there.)
She followed up the insults with threats. And then with an attack that shocked the good people of Davao City, where the Lumad had sought sanctuary at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran mission.
Catamco came with a big force of cops in a raid that injured many of the people she claimed to love. She made out Bai Bibi — yes, Bai Bibi — as a victim of trafficking. She blamed the victims of that violence, saying their stubbornness caused the melee.
This was Bai Bibi’s response.
The Armed Forces gleefully went to town with Catamco’s “human trafficking” fantasy and then overreached by ascribing the same flame on United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani,
In very explicit language, Beyani fumed:
Let me be absolutely clear, the indigenous persons in Davao are not victims of human trafficking. I was explicit in my discussions with the senior AFP representatives on multiple occasions, and indeed at my Press Conference that the indigenous persons concerned should under no circumstances be considered to fall into the category of trafficked persons.
The indigenous peoples whom I interviewed informed me that they relocated to this facility freely and in response to the militarization of their lands and territories and forced recruitment into paramilitary groups operating under the auspices of the AFP. My reference to their being ‘manipulated’ related to the attempt to forcibly move them out of the UCCP facility without proper and adequate consultation with them.
I therefore consider that the AFP statement by the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) in its news release of 7 August that the lumads (Indigenous People) in Davao City are victims of human trafficking is incorrect, unacceptable, and represents a gross distortion of my views on this issue.
Obviously, Catamco and her military pals have one single strategy. Repeat lies and repeat these again. They want peace only on her own terms and that of the government, which has sent shock troops to clear the way for mines and plantations.
So why should the Lumad come to her party?
Later, the blog on the proceedings of that sham hearing.