SAN FRANCISCO – As candlelight vigils were held in the U.S. and around the world for the deaths of Lumad leaders Dionel Campos, Emerito Samarca, and Juvello Sinzo, the calls for justice continues.
Filipino-American community leaders along with members of faith-based organizations, Mindanao natives, and the youth sat with representatives of the Philippine government at the San Francisco consulate.
They voiced concerns over what they call major violations of human rights by big mining corporations and the paramilitary.
They say that the Aquino government is doing nothing to protect the Lumads, who like the three leaders, are being killed for simply trying to educate their own people and for refusing to leave their land that also happens to be rich in natural resources.
“Certainly we welcome their coming over and expressing their views on the issue and we assured them that we will personally convey those concerns to appropriate government agencies,” said Deputy Consul General Jaimon Ascalon Jr.
Bangsomoro activist Bai Ali Indayla said, “We don’t have so much expectations that the killings will end because of this dialogue but we are happy that maybe we touched the hearts and we were able to convince the officials here that even they should do actions, should do their parts, their responsibilities as a consulate here to send a message to Malacañang.”
Those who met with the consulate provided them with a list of actions they would like to see from the Aquino administration.
Bernadette Ellorin, Chair of BAYAN USA, said, “To conduct an independent investigation of several incidents including the recent arson of UCCP Haran where a number of Lumad evacuees were seeking sanctuary. The perpetuators of this crime have yet to be arrested even though they have been identified.”
Other demands included that paramilitary groups be disbanded, “Oplan Bayanihan” becomes terminated because the counter insurgency program is targeting civilians, and that the Philippines adhere to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
During the months of April and May, a group of young Lumad leaders will be touring the U.S. to give first-hand experiences of the types of human rights violations they are experiencing every day.