In tear-filled testimony, Bai Norma Capuyan, Secretary of the Kalumaran Mindanaoo, shared her experience of bullets flying past as a crowd of protesting indigenous farmers was violently dispersed by police.
The protest was for food relief as the effects of El Niño had devastated their ability to grow their own food and also to bring attention to their plight as indigenous persons.
Eventually, the incident led to the death of three people, injuries to over 100, the detention of over 80, and thousands of protestors running into the nearby Spottswood Methodist Mission Center for sanctuary. In a Pastoral Statement, United Methodist Bishops Rodolfo A. Juan, Ciriaco Q. Francisco, and Pedro M. Torio, Jr., of the Philippines valiantly defended those protesting and seeking safety.
Norma was joined by Kerlan D. Fanagel of the Confederation of Lumad Organizations and Anthony Navarro, Executive Director of Salupongan, who shared of living under threat of land-grabbing by for-profit corporations seeking natural resources and without basic utilities such as electric power.
The delegation listed what they now seek, in light of recent violence, which included a fact-finding mission into the incident, the dropping of all falsely pressed charges against protestors, and help creating awareness around the effects of climate change.
Present to receive the delegation were Resident Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, Rev. David Farley, Director of Justice and Compassion Ministries, and Joy Prim, Chair of the Philippines Task Force, of the California-Pacific Conference. The delegation has several visits planned throughout California on their way to Portland, OR for the United Methodist General Conference 2016.
The Philippines Task Force of the California-Pacific Conference has a long-standing relationship with the indigenous people of the Philippines, working alongside the General Board of Church and Society and the General Board of Global Ministries.
A welcoming event, “Lakbay Mindanao,” will be hosted by the Philippines Task Force on Friday, April 22, 2016.
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