Lumad school decries alleged military harassment of students speaking up on climate change

September 27, 2019 - 6:18 PM
Lumad protesters
Lumads marched to Manila in 2015 to call the capital's attention to issues in their areas. (Philstar/File photo)

Alcadev, a community-run Lumad school, stressed that Lumad youth also fight for the environment like teen activist Greta Thunberg but they were being persecuted rather than supported in the Philippines.

Filipinos have since been praising and supporting Thunberg for her campaign called the Global Climate Strike, a week-long movement urging governments and business leaders to take action on the worsening climate crisis.

Some of them pointed out that there are also young Filipino environmentalists like Thunberg but are being threatened or red-tagged by the government.

Alcadev cited the persecution of Lumad youth as such example.

“Greta Thunberg is being praised for fighting for the environment. Meanwhile, when Lumad youth speaks up, they are being persecuted,” the school’s Twitter page said.

“After our students came home from speaking engagements recently, their families were harassed by the military, red-tagged and even jailed,” it added.

Alcadev also shared that the military has been threatening the parents to stop their children from going to school and joining educational conferences and activities.

“Now, communities are being militarized affecting their livelihood. Leaders who are known to be speaking against the entry of mining corporations and militarization are being targeted,” it said.

Watchdog Global Witness recently declared the Philippines as the deadliest place for environmental activists in the world.

Twitter user @clippedpath claimed there are other student-activists who have been arrested over allegations of being members of the New People’s Army.

Another user, @carolinobeata, brought up the case of the massacre of Lumad leaders in Lianga town in Surigao del Sur.

Case of Lumad youth and their schools

Lumad students who have been defending their rights to their ancestral homes against commercialization and mining companies are often threatened and accused of being members or enablers of communist rebels in Mindanao.

Lumad schools, in particular, have been threatened since President Rodrigo Duterte red-tagged them despite the people being victims of local terrorism as well.

Lumad schools are the main vehicles that help preserve the cultural identity of IP communities for the younger generation.

Since they adapted a culturally appropriate educational system in 2015, these educational institutions teach their students about their own culture and to be proud of it when they grow up.

To help these indigenous groups or IPs, prestigious universities in Manila such as the University of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas established schools called “bakwit” for the Lumad evacuees.

Last February, their representatives spoke at a festival in the University of the Philippines about the militarization of their communities and schools.

Last day of the Global Strike

The Philippines participated along with 150 countries in the world in the Global Climate Strike, which is about to end on September 27.

While the protests are not felt that much here, thousands adults and teenagers filled the streets of other countries such as Japan, the United States, New Zealand and France.

Amid the worldwide protests, Thunberg, who started this through a lone school strike at her hometown in Sweden, spoke at the United States Congress and the United Nations Climate Action Summit on the urgency of curbing climate change in the near future.

On September 26, she addressed via a Twitter thread the criticisms and other malicious comments she received online as mere distractions to her cause.

“I honestly don’t understand why adults would choose to spend their time mocking and threatening teenagers and children for promoting science, when they could do something good instead. I guess they must simply feel so threatened by us,” Thunberg said.