CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 14 September 2019

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Hint blood letting campaign failing

HONG KONG (SE): While the flow of blood from suspected small time drug pushers and couriers attributed mostly to officers from the Philippine National Police continues, another flow is spurting from unidentified bodies strewn around the country with signs taped to their bodies detailing their supposed crimes.

What both groups have in common is that they are poor and, if indeed they were involved drugs, it was at a minor level, as none fit the description of the drug baron that the president, Rodrigo Duterte, vows to wipe out.

However, he is not the only one with small time pushers in his sights. Further up the line dealers are seeing the need to protect their backsides and a report in the Philippine Inquirer claims that they are in all probability responsible for the anonymous, permanently silenced bodies.

But the sudden increase in spilt blood that irrigates Philippine soil has not affected the regular murders that have been going on over land and mining rights for decades.

“The continuing killings of tribal people is an urgent matter that the government must address,” Ailene Villarosa, from the Rural Missionaries of The Philippines, was quoted by UCAN as saying on July 19.

Villarosa was hosting a delegation of 24 people from around the world on an International Solidarity Mission to visit farming communities in Bukidnon where recent shootings have taken place.

Danny Diarog and Hermie Alegre were shot on their way home from a government commission meeting on July 15. Alegre was a parent-teacher from a tribal school, which the military regards as a breeding ground for Communist rebels and frequently carries out fatal attacks on staff and association members.

On July 12, the rights watchdog, Karapatan, reported that private security officers in Sumilo are believed to have gunned down three Higaonon people. A 15-year-old girl was also wounded in the attack and 400 have since fled their homes for fear of more bullets.

Sister Maria Fatima Somogod said that these killings are a constant feature of life in Mindanao and have been going on for years. She added that they mostly involve indigenous people who are presumed to be anti-progress, because they protect their land and livelihoods, as well as their culture, but she insists that does not make them anti-progress.

Nevertheless, they frequently die for their efforts and their deaths are not investigated. It is almost unheard of that any consequence comes to the killers.

Sister Somogod explained that a common image of indigenous people in the eyes of many Filipinos is that they are barbaric, which she said is not true, but sadly the government mostly shares the same view.

She explained that a particular source of contention at present is that indigenous people are claiming the right to till part of the land that is occupied by the Central Mindanao University in Maramag in Bukidnon, as they say it is their ancestral land.

The university has hired armed guards to keep them away.

Indigenous people have been on the wrong end of the bullets coming from the guns of the military, police and private security guards for years, but nothing has been done to stem the flow of their blood.

Duterte measures the success of his anti-drug campaign in bodies dead and litres of blood spilled, but in saying on July 22 the Mr. Bigs that he has vowed to wipe off the face of the earth are all overseas and out of his range, he may be hinting at a defence for what is shaping up as a failing campaign promise to rid the country of crime in three to six months.

But the blood will surely continue to flow, as it has done for years, leaving him plenty of scope to tout his campaign as effective, as long as he keeps quiet about what it does not achieve.

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