MANILA, Philippines – Thirteen-year old Lumad Shin has not heard about Facebook or Twitter, but she is grateful that strangers online are helping her get justice for the killing of her father.
“Salamat at nanawagan kayo para sa amin (Thank you for speaking up for us),” Shin told Rappler when she was informed that the hashtag #StopKillingLumads has been a trending topic on Twitter in the Philippines.
Shin said she saw her father, Dionel Campos, a Lumad leader and farmer, shot in the head twice allegedly by military and paramilitary elements on September 1 near their village in Lianga town in Surigao del Sur.
Helpless and traumatized, Shin, together with her family and more than 200 other Lumad, fled her village in the mountain, trekking for two hours to bring her dead father and another victim to the town proper. (READ: School head, 2 lumad leaders killed in Surigao del Sur)
Shin is now in Manila with other Lumad leaders to bring their plight closer to the seat of power and to the public. She is thankful that they received relief goods from the Philippine Red Cross and cause-oriented groups, but she feels they had been abandoned by the government:
"Maraming salamat. Nakatanggap kami ng pagkain at tubig, pero hindi namin nararamdaman ang tulong ng gobyerno,”
(Thank you. We received food and water, but we didn’t get the help of the government.)
On Monday, September 7, netizens took to Twitter to condemn the recent spate of killings and violence that target indigenous peoples, their leaders, and teachers. The thread that used hashtag #StopLumadKillings generated more than 4,100 tweets as of 7:30 pm, Monday.
#StopLumadKillings 7th spot in nationwide trends as of 4:43pm. Keep on tweeting and join the campaign! — John Clifford (@JCSibayan23) September 7, 2015
Count my RAGE in! #StopLumadKillings — Alyssa Marie Mijares (@MsTalkingHippo) September 7, 2015
Kayong mga may 10k followers and above, iretweet nyo naman ito para makarating sa Malakanyang at Camp Aguinaldo: #StopLumadKillings! — Caloy Conde (@caloyconde) September 7, 2015
Stop any form of human rights violation! End the culture of impunity! #StopLumadKillings pic.twitter.com/Kg1pcnKJjL — ⓝⓞⓔⓛ.ⓒⓤⓔⓝⓒⓐ (@totoheart) September 7, 2015
Praying for everyone! #StopLumadKillings — Noel Soriano (@n0els0rian0) September 7, 2015
Filipinos remain refugees in their own country! #StopLumadKillings — The Jhaypee Naco (@jhaypeeXclusive) September 7, 2015
#StopLumadKillings pic.twitter.com/iXmzsmTef4 — Marjohara Tucay (@marjohara) September 7, 2015
#StopLumadKillings The NCCP urges government authorities to end the ongoing militarization of Mindanao and... http://t.co/RO3f4z8mgY — NCCPhilippines (@NCCPhils) September 7, 2015
Military attacks on Lumad community schools in Mindanao. Save our schools! #StopLumadKillings pic.twitter.com/o4g9TGFwjE — Cleve V. Arguelles (@clevearguelles) September 7, 2015
Who is listening?
Journalists, bloggers, and pundits also weighed in on the situation, holding authorities accountable. The crisis has displaced nearly 4,000 indigenous peoples from Surigao del Sur, Bukidnon, Saranggani, and Davao del Norte allegedly due to human rights violations committed by the military.
"They’re killing teachers and children, Mr President,” veteran journalist Inday Varona wrote in her blog.
"You felt horror and rage on the assassination of your father, Ninoy. I am sure you can empathize with a 15-year old Manobo boy from Sitio Mando, Barangay Mendis, Pangantucan, Bukidnon," Varona said.
The boy’s father, 70-year-old Herminio Samia, was among the 5 Lumad accused of being rebels by the military who were killed on August 18 in Bukidnon. (READ: 5 killed in Bukidnon were civilians - NPA)
Journalist Lian Buan lamented, “the Lumads of Mindanao are desperately calling our for help, who’s listening?”
"All of us know the story of one fictional Yaya, her dashing prince charming, and the cunning but wise grandmother in a noontime series plastered all over the internet, newspapers and the airwaves. But only a few know the story of a 15-year-old Manobo boy from Pangantucan, Bukidnon”
For broadcast journalist Atom Araullo, the crisis tests the Aquino administration's political slogan:
Justice for the murder of lumad leaders in Mindanao! Let’s see what Daang Matuwid is made of. #StopLumadKillings #impunity — Atom Araullo (@atomaraullo) September 7, 2015
Political strategist Malou Tiquia called for accountability:
Daang Matuwid, you need to make the AFP accountable and do something re #StopLumadKillings — Malou Tiquia (@maltiq) September 7, 2015
But the military denied it has perpetrated the killings of indigenous peoples in the region, stressing that its mandate is to protect the Lumad from the New People's Army (NPA) and other alleged anti-NPA armed groups in the area.
"Wala kaming tropa doon. (We don't have troops there). If we were there, we could have prevented it," 402nd brigade commander Col Isidro Purisima told Rappler.
Purisima added that the military assisted the police and civil society groups that conducted investigation on the killings in Lianga.
"We condemn the killing," Purisima said, adding that the military "will support the law in finding justice for the victims."
According to Katribu secretary general Piya Macliing Malayao, 53 Lumad had been killed extrajudicially under the Aquino administration. Based on the group's documentation, the killings have intensified in 2015, claiming 13 lives as of September 1. – Rappler.com