Lift Martial Law, support GRP-NDFP peace talks-Ecumenical Indigenous Peoples’ Network


Coming from the Meeting of the Ecumenical Indigenous Peoples’ Network Reference Group May 31, 2017 | Manila, Philippines

We condemn the declaration of a state of martial law in the whole of Mindanao by the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s in response to the alleged terrorist attacks by the Islamic State-linked Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf in Marawi City. Current reports show that state security forces are intensifying its military operations in the whole island of Mindanao especially in Marawi City through indiscriminate aerial bombings, ground confrontations and clearing operations.

We equally express alarm that Martial Law in Mindanao further heightens current military abuses and excesses against the Indigenous Peoples there who are defending their lands against extractives, energy projects and plantations, and militarization of their communities.

Initial reports show that these attacks resulted to extensive damages to public and private property including church institutions, with lay and clergy trapped amid armed clashes, death and wounding of civilians. Local officials in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) reported “90% of the more than 200,000 residents of Marawi City have evacuated to neutral grounds for fear of the gunfights between government troops and combined Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists.”

As representatives of the Indigenous Peoples organizations and Churches from different regions of the world, our prayers and solidarity are with the Filipino people in these challenging times. Grounded on the imperatives of our faith to uphold peace based on respect of human rights:

1. We fervently urge President Rodrigo Duterte to heed the call of its citizens especially those in Mindanao and lift his Declaration of a state of martial law in the whole island, and consequently order a stop of military operations in Mindanao especially in Marawi City to allow a process of healing, reconciliation, and reconstruction for affected communities.

2. We call on the President to find ways, which shall not imperil the lives of civilians but rather address widespread poverty, landlessness, and unemployment, corruption in government, discrimination and repression that breedsocial unrest, conflict and violence not only in Mindanao but also in the entire country.

3. We support the peace talks between the Government of the Republic Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as a way of finding solutions to the root causes of social unrest, conflict, and violence in the country, giving appropriate attention to the plight and rights of Indigenous Peoples, and urge the GRP to go back to the negotiating table.

As we affirm our support and solidarity to the Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines, we also appeal to the ecumenical community around the globe to act in unity with the Filipinos in their quest for a just and lasting peace.

Signed by:
1. Christian Unity and Ecumenical Relations, National Council of Churches in the Philippines
2. Dewan Adat Papua (Papua Customary Council)
3. International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-determination and Liberation (IPMSDL)
4. Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KATRIBU)
5. Rural Missionaries of the Philippines – Northern Mindanao sub-Region, Inc.
6. People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty
1. Pya Macliing Malayao. Igorot Bontok. Philippines
2. Rev. Irma Balaba, United Church of Christ in the Philippines
3. Rev. Ray Minniecon. First Nations. Australia.
4. Juan Chávez. Aymara. Bolivia
5. Rev. Dr. Solomon Rongpi, General Secretary, Council of Baptist Churches in North-East India

Endorsed by:
Aboriginal Rights Coalition-Australia
Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA)
International Organization for Self-Determination and Equality (IOSDE)
Ogiek people’s Development Program
Society for Rights of Indigenous Peoples of Sarawak (SCRIPS)
Council of Baptist Churches in North-East India
Peace for Life
Asia Young Indigenous Peoples Network (AYIPN)

Rev. Rex Reyes, Jr, General Secretary, National Council of Churches in the Philippines
Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary, National Council of Churches in India
Tarcila Rivera Zea, Chirapaq, Center of Indigenous Cultures of Peru
Betty Koskei. Ogiek. Kenya
Berit Hagen Agøy, Secretary General, Council of Ecumenical and International Relations, Church of Norway
Risten Turi Aleksandersen, Secretary general, Sámi Church Council, Church of Norway
Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop of Canada
Michael M. Jok, Secretary General, Society for Rights of Indigenous People Sarawak, Malaysia
Rev. Maggie McLeod,?Executive Minister, Aboriginal Ministries and Indigenous Justice, United Church of Canada
Yohani Isqaqavut, The First Aboriginal Ambassador, The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan
Most Rev. Deogracias Iñiguez, Jr., D.D. Ecumenical Bishops Forum
Rev. Jerome Baris, National Program Coordinator, Justice, Peace and Human Rights, United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Dr. Rommel Linatoc, Program Secretary, Christian Unity and Ecumenical Relations, National Council of Churches in the Philippines
Bestang Dekdeken, Asia Program Director, Land is Life
Gam Shimray, Secretary General, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact

(As of 19 August 2017)