STANDING GROUND. Tribal leaders speak before members of the Geneva Press Club in a dialogue in Switzerland on Tuesday (Sept. 17, 2019). They are in Europe for a series of speaking engagements about the atrocities of the CPP-NPA-NDFP. (Contributed photo)

MANILA-- Some Filipino indigenous peoples' (IP) leaders on Tuesday brought to the European community their appeal for aid in their crusade against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples' Army (CPP-NPA), as they also called on the halt of funding to local organizations linked to the group.

During a dialogue with the Geneva Press Club in Switzerland on Tuesday, Datu James Binayao of the Manobo-Talaandig Tribe of Maramag, Bukidnon, said the communist armed movement in the Philippines has thrived through the years due to continued support it gets, through legal fronts and from some international groups.

"I call on the international community to please stop the support to these organizations who are allied with the CPP-NPA. For the past 50 years, the CPP-NPA has come to our ancestral domain to steal the peace and development that we have in our community," he lamented.

He added that for IPs like them, the ancestral domain is their life.

"It is the land that our ancestors fought for us to be preserved for our next generation but what the CPP-NPA did is they established their own community within our land," he said.

Binayao shared that the group camping on their land resulted in the displacement of its original IP settlers.

Datu James Binayao of the Manobo-Talaandig Tribe in Maramag, Bukidnon

"This led to the destruction of our culture and tradition because we don't have a place anymore to live in. I'm afraid that one day, the next generation of our tribe will become squatters in our own community," he added.

Recruitment victim

This sentiment was shared by Bae Laha Lahong Chiary Balinan of the Ata Tribe in Paquibato, Davao City, who recalled having a similar issue in her community.

"My father was accused as a traitor simply because he supported and helped implement government programs in our community," she said. "So please, I am here asking for your help to please stop the support (given), the support that goes to the CPP-NPA, that will be the ending of the lives of IP leaders in our community," she added.

Balinan said she herself was a "victim of recruitment" that led her astray to attaining real education.

Bae Laha Lahong Chiary Balinan of the Ata Tribe in Paquibato, Davao City

"They teach us how to use propaganda to fight our government. They ruined the good future of the IP children," she said.

Genocide, abuses

During the dialogue, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) chairperson, Secretary Allen Capuyan, confirmed these claims, saying that in the last five decades, the communist insurgency has resulted into the summary executions and torture of thousands of IP leaders and members.

"They've set up kangaroo courts with IPs as in charge and they ordered the head of these kangaroo courts to have these IPs killed, letting the IPs kill their own family," he shared.

Capuyan added that there was also a "genocide of members of the indigenous communities" involving mutilation, beheading, and killings inside their worship place as well as sexual abuse and indoctrination of the youth.

"If we are not going to stop this, we will be developing a new generation of children who have that radical mind, who are disrespectful, who are disobedient, who does not believe in families, because what is done now by the CPP is to divide the men, the women, and the children," he said.

 The CPP-NPA's fight, he said, has also resulted in the destruction of the IP community's traditional leadership structure and governance process.

"It is the program of the CPP to supplant IP leaders and replace them with revolutionary ones. Our IP leaders have been forcibly replaced including being killed," he shared.

He added that revered indigenous terms such as "bagani" has been reduced to "terrorist death squads" while sacred IP lands were turned into NPA camps.

"For the IP, every word is important. Bagani is important to them but the NPA named it as Red Bagani as fighters against the government. The Pantaron Range which is a sacred ground and a paradise to the IPs is now converted as the camp of the national operational command of the NPA for the entire country," he said.

Capuyan added that the IP leaders traveled all the way to Europe to share their stories and how the communist movement affected their lives.

"They are coming here not because they just like to come here, it is part of their customary law that if there are areas that their names are maligned or being used for whatever political ends, it is within their customary law that they must come to this place to clarify issue and hoping that they can engage these groups for the resolution of the case," he said.

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This as he recalled the verbal attacks thrown against the IP leaders when they visited the United States in July for the same purpose of seeking dialogue with the international community on their plight.

"I hope this will not happen in Europe," he said.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)