Trumped up charges, attack against indigenous peoples’ right to self -suffiency-MAPASU

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The Maluhutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sumusunod (MAPASU or the Persevering Struggle for the Next Generation) decries the harassment of its members through filing of trumped up charges against them.

Criminal cases of rebellion, malicious mischief, murder, frustrated murder, arson, and illegal possession of firearms and explosives and malicious mischief were filed  by elements of the Philippine National Police against 40 members in connection with the NPA attack on the Lianga Police Station in Surigao del Sur  on April 29, 2011.

MAPASU believes the aim of these actions is to vilify the organization that has made considerable impact to the lives of the indigenous peoples of Surigao del Sur. MAPASU has been implementing a  sustainable  economic development program for indigenous communities in the hinterlands of Surigao del Sur.

MAPASU has been consistently targeted by the military and local police because of their critical position against the establishment of military detachment within communities and the militarization of indigenous communities that hamper their food security program.

Another incident occurred  on July 21,2012 in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur that alleged the participation of  one of the active  leaders of MAPASU and at the same time secretary general of KASALO -CARAGA in the clashes between military troops and the NPA. The said leader vehemently denied any involvement in the encounter as he was a guest at the Bombo Radyo Station in Butuan on the same time the said clashes occurred. He was only informed of the case filed with the prosecutors’ office in  Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur after reading about it in a local newspaper.

MAPASU leaders said that they did not  received any notice or information about their case from the court. On  May 2012 they  received copy of their case from  KARAPATAN Caraga based on court records of an existing criminal case that was being handled by the organization since May 2011.  Names of the MAPASU members were added in the August 2011 amended information of the criminal case.  

MAPASU organization was established to empower indigenous communities in Lianga, San Agustin, Marihatag, Tago and San Miguel in the province of Surigao del Sur to develop  their ancestral land . MAPASU aims to secure the food needs of these communities and enhance their capabilities to implement sustainable economic development programs.

MAPASU has supported the establishment of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood   Development (ALCADEV) School that provides alternative education for indigenous youth in the Caraga Region. Together with ALCADEV, they have been implementing food security programs in different communities in the region.

By implicating active MAPASU members in these criminal charges, the military and the local police make the MAPASU members and communities open target during military operations. Military operations in these communities often result to the disruption of the communities’ economic activities.

The member communities of MAPASU reside within the 58,000 hectares of Andap Valley Complex which they claim as their ancestral land. The Andap Valley Complex is rich in natural resources such as coal, copper and gold  and has long been eyed by different mining companies for exploration and exploitation. Military operations started to build up to paved way the  entrance of mining operations in the late 1990s. Since 2005, intense and massive operations have resulted to a series of evacuations in the said communities. However, these operations failed to drive away the indigenous communities from Andap Valley.

The malicious criminal charges filed  against leaders and members of MAPASU and    leaders of  member organization under Regional Alliance of Lumad Organization in Caraga region (KASALO-CARAGA) has reached to 80 individuals.This  is  another strategy undertaken by the military and local police to silence the indigenous peoples’  strong stance in protecting and developing their ancestral land.

Spearheaded by KALUMARAN together with KASALO- CARAGA, MAPASU organization actively particpated in Manilakbayan, a 10- day Mindanao peoples mobilization in Manila last December 1-10,2012 to protest and condemn worsening effects of large scale destructive mining to indigenous peoples’ land, environment and human rights violations.###

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