MANILA Some members of Indigenous Peoples (IPs), who have experienced the ill-effects of insurgency in the south, have described as "productive" and "successful" their just-capped Europe Truth Caravan against the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army (CPP-NPA).
The IP leaders Datu Panuliman James Binayao of the Manobo-Talaandig Tribe of Maramag, Bukidnon; Datu Awing Apuga of the Ata Manobo tribe; Datu Nestor Apas of the Langilan Tribe; Chiary Balinan of the Ata Tribe in Paquibato; Magdalina Iligan of the Mananwa Tribe; Anna Jessamae Crisostomo of the Ovu Manuvu Tribe; and Datu Langilan Asenad Bago and Datu Joel Dahusay of the Matigtalomo Tribe in Davao del Norte were in Europe for about 21 days.
During their trip, the eight were able to interact with the Filipino community and foreign government officials, as well as attend a meeting at the United Nations in Geneva.
"Nag-promise silang tulungan tayo para magkaroon ng hustisya ang mga leaders na pinapapatay (They promised to help us pursue justice for our slain tribal leaders)," Apas said in a press conference upon their arrival in Manila on Friday night.
Apas said representatives of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights also "committed" to look into their situation as they narrated their plight before the UN body.
"Pati foreign funding agencies, nagsabi sila na pag-iisipan ang donasyon (Even foreign funding agencies said they would assess their donations to the Philippines)," he said, declining to name these development agencies.
"Ang ating mga funders, may programa sila. Maganda ang intensyon nila, pero 'pagdating dito sa mga grupo sa Pilipinas, doon na nagkakalabuan (Our funders have programs. They have good intentions but it's when the money is funneled to groups in the Philippines that the issue begins)," he added.
One of the younger IP delegates, Asenad, also shared his experiences in Europe as he thanked the members of the Filipino community for warmly welcoming their group in every European state they visited.
"Medyo naiinggit lang ako sa mga kasamahan ko na may alam sa (I am a bit jealous as some of my fellow delegates are a little fluent in) English. Kung 'di ko nakapag-aral sa NPA, sana marunong na akong mag-English ngayon (Had I not been taught by the NPA, I could speak English now)," he said.
"Tulungan niyo kami na sana wala na silang maloko. Tulungan niyo kami na sana makauwi na kami (Help us in preventing them from deceiving others. Help us so we can go home)," he added.
READ: NPA uses alternative schools as 'training ground' for rebels: IPs
Asenad earlier said that during his stay in Salugpongan in Sitio Dolyan of Talaingod, NPA leaders came to the staff house for teachers, who, whenever there were no classes, took them to NPA posts where they were shown videos on how to attack military detachments.
Meanwhile, Iligan expressed hope that other IPs who have witnessed the "violence" of the CPP-NPA, would also be able to visit Europe as they did and tell their own stories.
"Sana may makapunta doon na IP pa para isiwalat ang totoong nangyari sa amin (I hope other IPs would be able to go there and share what really happened to us)," she said.
The eight were accompanied by Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy who said that their journey towards raising awareness of the evils perpetrated by the CPP-NPA is not yet over.
"This journey is not yet over but our country is in a good place because it is the first time that we have a president who is facing this insurgency in ways that other presidents never had," she said.
Badoy said the reception in Europe was "very positive."
"They're very happy that we are taking this on now, this insurgency," she said.
"Like Italy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they said that they are very happy that we are taking this on and that they support us and that they will cooperate in case they have information," she said.
Badoy noted that the government is set to submit the list of non-government organizations (NGOs) in the Philippines with confirmed connections with the CPP-NPA.
"But we're very careful not to make a sweeping generalization of NGOs because there are a lot of NGOs that are very good and they really help people out of poverty. We're very careful that we give an accurate list to them with documentary evidence," she said. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency