THE Department of National Defense on Saturday said it would only target lumads who joined and were actively supporting the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army in security operations, and not the whole indigenous community.
DND’s statement emerged after a group of lumads from several places in the country staged a protest action in front of Camp Aguinaldo on Friday, claiming that tagging the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization would result in a large-scale operation targeting lumads.
“That is not true at all. If and when the CPP-NPA are tagged as terrorists by the court, it will apply only to their leaders, regular fighters and supporters. Only lumads who joined the NPA regular ranks and those who actively support the CPP-NPA in whatever form will be included as terrorists and will be the object of security operations,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement.
The DND assured the people that “peace-loving lumads” would be protected by the military and the police.
At a summit in Davao City last month, President Rodrigo Duterte asked the lumads to trust the Armed Forces of the Philippines and not the NPA.
Duterte urged the indigenous peoples to fight alongside the government and point to the authorities the location of NPA camps, while announcing the release of P100 million for their livelihood programs and agricultural development.
In December last year, the President signed a proclamation categorizing the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group.