As we commemorate both the National Indigenous Peoples (IP) Day and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Day, we are always reminded to be cognizant on the inherent rights of every person particularly when an armed conflict arises especially in Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs). While the IHL protects those who do not take part in fighting, there are still these opportunists who take advantage of the situation as well as our IPs.
As we all now know and aware of, the CPP-NPA-NDF is grossly violating human rights provision not only to our IPs but also to our innocent "kababayans". Take the case of the Absalon cousins who died due to their barbaric terroristic acts with the use of anti-personnel mines in Masbate City last June 06, 2021.
Another violation is the illegal recruitment of young IPs to fight in war and more often placed on the front lines to fight government forces. As contained in the Additional Protocol I of 1977, Article 77 of the IHL, children under 15 years of age shall not be recruited into armed groups and not allowed to take part in the fighting.
In situations of armed conflict especially in ICCs such as we, the Cordillerans, the Aetas, the Lumads, etc, family problems become magnified. Needs of children are multiplied and complexity sets in. Presence of males armed with guns becomes a usual sight. IP children do not mind at all the sounds of helicopters hovering in mid-air or even the exchange of gunfire. IP children already at the edge of their health, especially during this pandemic, are often driven from their homes and cry out for emergency care. IP children from armed conflict areas witness how family members are being killed. Because of armed conflict, families are left with no choice but to leave their communities to avoid being caught in the crossfire. This displacement leaves psychological wounds in the affected tribes.
What do these terrorists care about these IPs and their families? As long as they kill and kill people, they won't even lift a finger to help these IPs who are unwilling victims in armed conflict. The CPP-NPA-NDF doesn't even give a damn on what the effects of armed conflict do to the IPs.
A few studies have been conducted on the effects of armed conflict on the minds and emotions of IPs. Let me cite a few: In ICCs exposed to armed conflict, children in these areas grew accustomed to violence. These children learned to be suspicious of strangers. They became fearful of their surroundings and worst, they even grew up with a sense of helplessness.
I hope THEY get to read this; I do not think the CPP-NPA-NDF was ever on the side of our fellow IPs, all they think of are themselves only. If you do not want to recognize our government, fine, but at least respect our laws that protect our IPs and our "kababayans".
This article was shared with the Igorotage team by Janine A. Martin, from Tadian, Mountain Province. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.