Stop large mining and pullout military troops in indigenous communities!
The Cordillera Peoples Alliance strongly condemns the rape and sexual abuse of two minors from Mankayan, Benguet by Army Captain Danilo Lalin, formerly of the 50th Infantry Battalion and now with the 86th Infantry Battalion, that are both under the 5th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The perpetrator must be punished, and we challenge authorities to swiftly act on this situation for what remains of the justice that can be done for the victims and their families. Justice delayed is justice denied.
The tandem of large mining and militarization in the Cordillera has always resulted in numerous rights violations of affected communities, ranging from civil and political rights, to violation of collective rights of indigenous peoples. The sexual abuse and rape of the two young indigenous women from Mankayan by the military is not an isolated case, as there have been similar documented cases of such in other mining-ravaged, mining-affected and militarized communities in the Cordillera, such as Abra, Kalinga and Mountain Province.
As a means to soften community resistance to large mining and militarization, our indigenous women are wooed by the military, impregnated and eventually abandoned. Justice was hardly ever served in these heinous crimes perpetrated by the military, and worse, these are continuing. The AFP is hounded with the exposés on its practice of plunder and corruption. Is rape, sexual abuse and other forms of violence against women also its practice?
Where there are large mining applications and operations, there too is militarization, not to mention paramilitary groups, and Special Cafgu Active Auxiliaries, that are all utilized to augment the large mines’ security forces including securing the State’s economic interests. Thus, the mining companies are also accountable for the sexual abuse of these indigenous women and youth. In particular, Lepanto and Goldfields must also be held accountable. Elsewhere in the Cordillera region, military troops are deployed to secure mining operations and applications.
In Cordillera indigenous cultural values, the ili/tribal society has high regard and respect for women and children, the way it is consistently concerned for future generations. We hold our women in high esteem—they are the source of life all of us are borne of our mothers. Thus, these sexual abuses and rape of our women is outrageous and must immediately stop—there should be no more victims. We call on Cordillera brothers and sisters, especially those in the military and police, to denounce these violations of human rights and dignity, in demanding for justice for the victims and for the perpetrator Captain Lalin to be punished. We challenge the AFP not condone criminals and rights violators from among its ranks—it should not condone Lalin and should instead ensure he is apprehended and brought to the bar of justice.
On this matter, CPA will also seek support from other advocates of indigenous peoples’ rights in other Philippine regions including the international community. On Cordillera Day 2012, which CPA is organizing in all 6 Cordillera provinces and Baguio City, expect that there will be protest actions, lobbies and petitions that will be carried out to fight for the respect and recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights; for the pullout of military troops in indigenous communities, and for a stop to large mining in indigenous communities. ***