decries relentless attacks against Bakwit Schools
February 16, 2021
MANILA – The
National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) condemns the
violent intrusion of the elements of the PNP Regional Office in Cebu
into the University of San Carlos-Talamban Campus where the Lumad
Bakwit School is taking refuge. On February 15, 2021, the PNP barged
into the campus in an alleged “rescue operation” for minors
allegedly kidnapped by progressive groups.
“This intrusion of the PNP
is clear manifestation of this government’s disregard to the rights
and lives of our indigenous peoples, especially the Lumad children
who are already under constant and intense distress since they have
been uprooted from their ancestral lands on several occasions.” said
Bishop Reuel Marigza, the General Secretary of the NCCP.
“This is not the first.
They did the same to the Lumads who have sought a safe place in the
United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran Center in
Davao. In their quest for a more peaceful place, away from their
military-occupied ancestral lands, the Lumads have no choice but to
flee and go to places where they feel that they are safe. It is just
abhorrent and unacceptable for us churches to see the government’s
relentless attacks to their lives and communities,” Bishop Marigza
The setting up of Lumad
Bakwit Schools has been a collective response of the indigenous
peoples on the intensifying militarization and land grabbing of
Lumad communities in Mindanao. The Bakwit schools have been set up
by the elders of the communities, NGOs and churches to assert their
children’s right to education.
“NCCP firmly believes in
the inherent worth and dignity of children. They are God’s gift and
are valuable members of the human family. Thus, the NCCP upholds its
commitment to protect and defend children's rights,” Bishop Marigza
“The violent raid in Cebu
showed us how the Government can conveniently assault our national
minorities even under the care of sanctuaries and havens in the
guise of ‘rescue operations’”, Bishop Marigza said. “This pseudo
‘rescue operations’ is clearly a violation of the rights of our
Lumad children and their teachers and to the whole Lumad communities
who have suffered decades-long struggles in defense of their
ancestral land, life and their education,” Bishop Marigza averred.
The NCCP is in solidarity
with the Lumad children in their struggle for their land and their
rights to education. “We join the call to end militarization in
Mindanao and to save Lumad schools. We likewise call for the safe
and immediate release of the 25 students including their elders and
their teachers who were illegally detained from this violent police
raid”, the Bishop concluded.
The NCCP is the largest
aggrupation of mainline Protestant and non-Roman Catholic churches
in the Philippines.