NEW YORK CITY — With the atrocities committed by communist terrorist organizations in conflict-torn Mindanao, Indigenous People’s (IP) leader Chiary Balinan said silence is no longer an option.
On Saturday, armed with “nothing but the truth,” the 28-year-old member of the Ata tribe in Davao City spoke before Filipinos here, as she shared how the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines(CPP-NPA-NDFP) exploited and radicalized IP communities in the Philippines.
“We have come here to tell our stories, the truth of the situation of the indigenous peoples in the Philippines, and to seek your help in addressing our very serious problem, the scars of communist terrorism,” she said in a speech. “We are here because the greatest weapon against deception is truth.”
Balinan said thousands of brave leaders in her community were killed simply because they did not follow what the communist terrorists wanted.
“Our women were raped. Our culture was subverted. Our resources were plundered. Our peaceful communities were destroyed forcing us to seek refuge elsewhere. Our children have been brainwashed and molded to become child warriors,” she said.
Balinan is among the eight tribal leaders currently in the United States of America for a series of speaking engagements about the atrocities of the CPP-NPA-NDFP.
Speaking the truth
The delegation, which includes former NPA child warrior Datu Awing Maraan Apuga and IP teacher and community organizer Joel Dahusay, is calling on the US government, United Nations, and various international organizations here to help get rid of the communist terrorist groups in the country.
“Kung hindi kami nakarating dito at hindi namin naiparating ang ating mga problema ay sino pa kaya ang tutulong sa amin? (If we did not get here and were not able to share our issues, who else would help us?,” Dahusay said.
Dahusay shared how the Salugpungan school has become an instrument of the Left to deceive and corrupt the IP culture, saying it has “radicalized the young children” in Mindanao.
Filipino organizations and community groups in the US are welcoming the IPs with open arms, providing platforms for them to raise their voices on their plight back home.
Filipina Margie Lapiz, who is based in New York City’s Staten Island, said she never expected the intense struggle the IP communities faced in their own ancestral lands.
“Hearing from them today, I feel the need to help our country even more. Since I have friends all over the world, I also want them to know the truth, the needs of the IPs,” she said.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy, for her part, said President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to form a national task force to work out a mechanism to help end the decades-old communist insurgency paved the way for the tribal leaders’ voices to be heard.
Badoy called on Filipinos here “to be courageous like the IP leaders” in letting the world know of the true issues confronting tribal communities in the Philippines.
“Sa totoo lang, bakit tayo matatakot? Sila ang matakot dumating na ang araw nila (Truth is, why will we be afraid? They should be afraid because their time has come,” Badoy said, referring to members of the CPP-NPA-NDFP.
Duterte’s creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is contained in Executive Order No. 70, which institutionalizes a “whole-of-nation approach” in attaining an inclusive and sustainable peace.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. Rom Dulfo / PNA – northboundasia.com