AFP using people’s money to attack Lumad schools -solon
ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro slammed the military for its attacks against Lumad schools, at the deliberations on Monday on the 2018 budget of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“Matagal nang nakararanas ng matitinding atake ang Lumad schools mula sa military and paramilitary ranging from threat, harassment, and intimidation of teachers, students, and community leaders, to encampment by soldiers of schools and destruction of school property and premises, up to extrajudicial killings,” said Castro. “Worse is the bomb threat issued by President Duterte against Lumad schools and his malicious accusation that they are ‘illegal’ and being used by the NPA.”
She noted that military attacks against schools and civilians violates Philippine laws as well as international humanitarian and human rights laws. “May permit man o wala, may tao man o wala, these are civilian structures so it is a crime–even a war crime–for the military to attack them.”
The solon added that attacks against the Lumad intensified with the President’s statement and martial law, with soldiers and paramilitaries taking full advantage of “inspections” and checkpoints to harass and vilify civilians. The AFP also did several aerial bombings in Marawi and other places like North Cotabato and Bukidnon.
“This is how the AFP uses its budget. It targets disadvantaged sectors like Lumad peasants who are only struggling for their rights to education and self-determination. It unleashes indiscriminate terror against civilians through aerial bombings and shelling of communities,” lamented Castro.
“This is the peoples’ money used against them. Already, the AFP has spent P3 billion for indiscriminate warfare in Mindanao. A single bomb used in an airstrike costs P323,000, and the military has so far used about 2,000. As one Lumad student said, ‘It’s not the NPA or the Maute group that’s getting bombed, it’s civilians.’ Just a single bomb could have gone a long way to provide for the education of Lumad children, but instead government uses it to destroy their lives and future. Anybody can see this is madness.”
The solon reiterated calls for the military and its paramilitaries to stop their attacks on Lumad schools and end aerial bombings in Mindanao. She also called for the lifting of martial law. ###