We were not misled into supporting lumads, actress tells general

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A call to end lumad killings at the Manilakbayan camp-out

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — “So tell us, what’s your story?”

This was the question actress and former beauty queen Liza Diño asked Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala in a social media post, after Kakilala, the chief of the Civil Relations Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), was quoted in reports as saying that famous personalities were misled into supporting the lumads.

A photo collage posted on Facebook by Diño had cut-outs of an Inquirer.net report, which quoted Kakilala as saying: “Yung social media support naman. Hindi alam nina Aiza Seguerra, Maine Mendoza, hindi nila alam ‘yung real story. Kung malaman siguro they would have reservations.”

[Translation: "As to the social media support, Aiza Seguerra, Maine Mendoza do not know the real story. If they do, then they would have reservations."]

Diño, along with her partner Seguerra, joined the 700 lumads, who came from militarized communities in Mindanao during the Manilakbayan.

Related: AFP apologizes for sending military personnel in UPD

The lumads and their supporters are calling for an end to lumad killings, allegedly perpetrated by the military and paramilitary groups.

Other supporters include spoken word poet Juan Miguel Severo and actors from the widely popular AlDub kalyeserye like Mendoza, known for her character as Yaya Dub, and comedian Wally Bayola, known for his character as Lola Nidora.

Lola Nidora for LUMAD.(ctto)[Resty]

Posted by AlDub Loveteam - Alden Richards and Yaya Dub on Saturday, October 31, 2015

The report cited Kakilala as saying that supporters were just “misinformed” and “misled” by the appeals of some lumads who joined the Manilakbayan.

In response, Diño asked Kakilala why he didn’t use the ambush interview with reporters at the House of Representatives as an opportunity to air the military’s side of the story.

“How funny for you to easily accuse my husband of being misled in our stand against the oppression of our LUMAD brothers and sisters without supporting it with any reason… You were given the floor in the article to tell us the real story and yet you did not disclose your side.”

She also addressed the statement of the official on the lumads’ appeals.

“You say that the Manilakbayan LUMADS are appealing to our emotions... Oh yes they are...and we are moved.”

“Try going to Liwasang Bonifacio and you will see the ALCADEV (Alternative Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development) students who are raring to go back to their schools and study again; the tribal leaders who feel so powerless because they can no longer look after their own people;the fathers who cannot go back to their farms and feed their families;the mothers who had to leave their children in the evacuation centres, travel to Manila with heavy hearts in the hope that they can go back there with ANSWERS.”

Last September, ALCADEV Executive Director Emerito Samarca, Malahutayong Pakibisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) Chairperson Dionel Campos, and Datu Bello Sinzo were killed allegedly by a paramilitary group affiliated with the AFP.

But the AFP pointed out that conflicts in the lumad ancestral lands were due to the presence of the communist New People's Army (NPA).

Related: AFP chief appeals to netizens to see whole picture on lumad killings

It also accused ALCADEV of radicalizing lumad children by “subliminally espousing the culture of violence,” making them vulnerable to NPA recruitment.

'Does this give you the right to kill him?’

But whether or not the accusation against the school was true, Diño argued that it didn't justify the killings.

She cited her talk with Yosie, the widow of Samarca, who recalled how her husband was “hogtied, stabbed and his throat slit in the room of the school by your Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group.”

“I cannot imagine the pain she is going through right now as well as the students of ALCADEV who are grieving because of the loss of their mentor,” she said.

Diño also shared the story told to her by the daughter of Campos.

“We stand with the 700 of them right now who travelled for days to get to Manila to air out their sentiments as well the more than 3,000 others who were forced to evacuate their homes because of military operations,” she said.

Her post was closed with the words "Utterly disgusted and very much insulted" and the hashtags #lumaddinako, #defendlumadlands, and #defendlumadlives.

Both NPA and AFP responsible

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), however, highlighted that both the AFP and the NPA “recruit the lumads to their combat.”

Related: CHR asks for P15M budget to help lumads caught in conflict

At least 35 cases of extrajudicial killings involving 59 members of the tribal community in Mindanao were reported to the CHR.

Related: Bangsamoro: Many cultures united under Islam

Out of these, 10 cases were allegedly perpetrated by the AFP, while eight cases were attributed to the NPA.

The CHR also noted how the mineral-rich ancestral domains of the lumads are being encroached upon by mining companies.

“Mindanao is not only a food basket, but also holds the country’s biggest deposit of gold, nickel, and copper found in select areas such as Davao, Agusan del Sur and especially Surigao.”

Some rights groups claimed that mining companies are employing some military personnel for protection.