Editorial: Hopefully, a solution

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Monday, April 28, 2014

DAVAO City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte and Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo R. del Rosario will be meeting to settle the problems raised by Ata-Manobo tribe members from Talaingod who are accusing the military of abuses and are asking that they be left in peace in their villages without the constant presence of the military.

The lumads have been provided temporary shelter at the haran House of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) in Davao City as they profess not to return to their villages for as long as the military operate there.

There are no better people to sit down and thresh this problem out than the two men, who in their long years of service in government as mayor and governor have been consistent in pushing for peace dialogues instead of all-out war solutions. In the waning years of the communist rebellion in the early 1990's both were moving heaven and earth for localized peace talks after the negotiations between the national government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) almost always bogged down.


They are not the type of leaders who will red-tag anyone as many local and national government officials love to do just to sweep a problem under the rug during their long years as chief executives of their own areas. Rather, both men have shown they understand how it is to live in fear under the barrel of the gun – from whatever side the gun wielder is.

We have pointed out in an earlier editorial that one thing is very obvious in this situation, and it is not whether the lumads are being used by the communist rebels as propaganda material, as the military would often say, but the poverty that is manifested all over the lumads’ faces. The problem is poverty. Solve it at the root. Otherwise, they will forever be fleeing their lands, shouting for help that most of the time falls on the deaf ears of their local government officials who’d rather take the easy way out of saying they are but propaganda materials of the enemy.

No one can ever be made into anything if he has the power and dignity to stand up for himself, feed his family, and govern his own community. It will be difficult to force anyone to leave the comfort of his own home, that they left shows there is not much comfort to be found there.

May the mayor and governor -- both honed by years of looking poverty straight in the face and finding the compassion to deal with it without promising undeliverable solutions -- find a true and lasting solution to this one. The lumads of Talaingod deserve as much after all the neglect they have been made to suffer through all these years.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 29, 2014.


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