On  its Tuesday  (December 19, 2017) issue, page  A8, the  Philippine  Daily  Inquirer published  an article written  by Funston  Lim titled "AFP taps 'lumad' soldiers vs NPA". The news item stated that "At least 1OO "lumad"  (indigenous peoples, or IPs) soldiers would be sent  to  their  communities in “Southern  Mindanao  to  guard  their  ancestral  domain  against communist insurgents, military officials said on Sunday”.  It further reported  that a study of a Davao-based Army  Division  revealed  that  “at least  80 percent  of  the  communist insurgent recruits 1n Southern  Mindanao  came from the tribes”.

We  understand that  the  ancestral  domains  are, for  decades,  "hosts"   to  the  armed conflict  between  the military and the New  People's  Army. For  many years as well, the NPA had  been  recruiting  members  of  the indigenous cultural communities /  indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs)   from  several  communities not  only  in  Mindanao  but  throughout  the  country. There  are, however,  many  indigenous communities who  are not  sympathetic and  has been resisting  NPAs  in  their  respective  ancestral  domains.  They have prevented their members from joining them.  Consequently, these communities have been  the target of harassment by the  rebel  group  and  have  been  left with  no  other  recourse  but  to  request  the  military for assistance in protecting  their domains.

While we laud AFP's assistance to the IP communities, we would like to remind the IP soldiers to use their skills to resist harassment and repel attacks against the IP communities and to secure and maintain peace in the ancestral domains, IP soldiers should also remember that the  force they will be facing are also ICCs/IPs.    They must not forget that there are IP core values which must be sustained.

We in the NCIP has, for years, supported and facilitated IP-to-IP dialogues. We call on all leaders and elders of IP  communities to  continue  IP-to-IP  dialogues to thresh out issues and  address  concerns  affecting  their  respective  communities using their  customary  ways of resolving disputes.  We should  consistently stick to  the «ideology" which  communities stand for:  to  live in  peace  and  harmony  within  their  indigenous communities. Armed response should always be a last resort.

We  also  call  on  all  concerned   government  agencies  to  assist  in  institutionalizing dialogues  between   /  among  IPs  and  indigenous communities as a mechanism to  resolve conflicts.


AFP taps ‘lumad’ soldiers vs NPA (News Article from Inquirer)

Military says local fighters to protect IP communities, ancestral lands


DAVAO CITY — At least 300 “lumad” (indigenous peoples, or IPs) soldiers would be sent to their communities in Southern Mindanao to guard their ancestral domain against communist insurgents, military officials said on Sunday.

The lumad recruits, organized into four Sundalo ng Mamamayan Armado Laban sa Terorismo at Kriminalidad (Soldiers of the People Armed Against Terrorism and Criminality, or SMART) companies, are set to be assigned near their home villages after graduating from an eight-week basic military training, according to Capt. Jerry Lamosao, public affairs chief of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division (ID).

“The potential of the IPs will be seen in a different perspective. They can maximize the skills and knowledge acquired during training in solving issues and problems in their communities,” Lamosao said.

Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, 10th ID commander, said the primary task of IP troops was to counter harassment and recruitment by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in lumad communities.

“Those in the ancestral domains are very prone to agitation and recruitment because of their innocence about the real picture of the NPA’s intentions,” Clement said. “As such, there’s a need to educate and inform the IP communities about the propaganda, deception and motives of the communists in their ancestral domain.”

A recent study by the Davao City-based Army division revealed at least 80 percent of communist insurgent recruits in Southern Mindanao came from the tribes.

The study, which was based on the number of IP rebels who surrendered to authorities, revealed the extent of “NPA deception” in lumad communities, said Col. Erwin Bernard Neri, commander of the Army’s 1001st Infantry Brigade in Compostela Valley province.

The soldiers would be sent to their hometowns within the 10th ID’s area of operation in Davao and Caraga regions, as well as in some parts of Cotabato and Sarangani provinces.

Led by an IP officer, each company is expected to handle multirole operations, meaning it should be effective in civil-military operations as well as in battle, military officials said.

The NPA and several left-wing organizations have hit the military’s move to recruit an all-lumad unit, calling it “a blatant exploitation of lumad communities.”

The Supreme Tribal Council for Peace and Development, an anticommunist lumad group in Davao, hailed SMART’s creation and rewarded Clement with the title Datu Balunto (rainbow) “for bringing hopes of peace and security” in lumad communities.