From the Business Mirror (Jul 26, 2019): Pinoy tribal leaders claim NPA ‘harassment’ while on US trip
A GROUP of tribal leaders from Mindanao who went on a monthlong tour to the United States reported on Thursday they were allegedly harassed by leftist groups for telling Filipino-American audiences there that their monetary contributions went not into educating or teaching indigenous students but for the purchase of arms to terrorize local communities into accepting the communist ideology.
The eight-member group who were dubbed “Ambassadors of Truth” of the “Telling the Truth Caravan” reported that they were able to relay to the various Fil-Am organizations the real intent of leftist groups who are part of a broad alliance organized by the National Democratic Front which is directly linked to the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) led by Jose Ma. Sison.
The group’s spokesman, Datu Jake Lanes said five members of the group who went to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and other places were former communist cadres like him.
“That is why we know what we are talking about when we spoke about the terrorism being employed against the Manobos and the Cordillera people and other indigenous groups,” Lanes said.
He said the aim of the various communist groups in the country, like the New People’s Army (NPA), “is to teach the young tribal communities to hate the government and eventually topple the government.”
Lanes said the leftist groups in the United States followed them wherever they went to try to disrupt their campaign, among which is to tell the Fil-Am associations to stop giving money to these groups.
“There are more than 4 million Filipinos in the United States, and even if some of them give $2 or $5, the total collection is a huge amount that is why they want to prevent us from telling the truth,” he said.
Lanes said they have listed 17 atrocities committed by the local communist groups against the tribal people, and many of them have fled their mountain redoubts to escape being terrorized, although many of them have already been allegedly killed by the NPAs.
“We who escape from out tribal communities are the original bakwet people,” Lanes said.
“The Philippine’s geography is composed of many islands and mountains and the NPA wanted to occupy these mountainous terrain far away from the police authorities,” Lanes added. He said those the NPA brainwashed through coercion were taught to accept the armed struggle which includes deception and assertion and for the young to accept the communist ideology with ultimate aim of bringing down the government.
“We thought that the Filipino leftists are only here in the Philippines; we were surprised there are many more of them in the US,”Lanes said.
The group, which stayed in the US for 24 days sometimes had more than one sessions in one day, telling the same story of NPA terrorism and abuse to the tribal communities and asking them to stop giving monetary contributions to these groups, which allegedly include Makabayan, Garbriela, Migrante, Anakbayan and Karapatan, among others.
Lanes said it is estimated that some 5.7 million hectares of mountainous terrains are occupied by the indigenous people across the country. He said the Philippines has 110 tribes, which consist of 14 percent of the 110 million Filipinos.
He added that 60 percent of the indigenous people are in Mindanao alone.
Lanes said they exposed that the alleged Lumad group that went to the United States in 2015 to lobby for the tribal groups were bogus and were denounced even by the Cordillera people.
Among their engagements in New York were meetings with the Patriotic Filipino Community, United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the New York- based Media Networks, Philippine Consulate, New York and Fordham University.
In Chicago the group engaged with the Fil-Am Community in Skokie, Cook County, Illinois; visited the Chicago Field Museum and a Courtesy Call to Consul General Gina Jamoralin on July 5, 2019.
The next day, they were to the Midwest Fil-Am Community at Seafood City, Illinois; Fil-Am Community Forum, Milwaukee; Davao Association of the Midwest; Philippine-American Seniors Association of Chicago; Alpha Phi Omega of the Midwest and a press conference at the Philippine Consulate in Chicago in the presence of Chicago Philippine Reports TV.
The group also went to Los Angeles and San Francisco, meeting with LA Deputy Consul Ambrosio Bryan F. Enciso; the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles; the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles with blogger/writer Maharlika, and then meeting with City of Cerritos Council Member and former Mayor Mark Pulido.
In Washington, they met with Rep. Terrance John Cox of 21st district California, went to the Philippine Embassy with US-Philippine Society; US Department of State; The Heritage Foundation and the The Migrant Heritage Commission.