Lumad leaders meet with PNP chief; deny joining NPA

MANILALumad leaders from Mindanao on Wednesday denied allegations that they are members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA)

The indigenous peoples (IP) leaders' refuted these reports during a courtesy call on Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde, in observance of the National Indigenous People's Month.

In an interview with reporters, Albayalde said the Lumad leaders, led by Lipatuan Unad, 54, chairperson of Mindanao Indigenous Peoples' Coalition for Cultural, Justice and Integrity, claimed that many of those who were spotted wearing tribal clothes in rallies are not members of their indigenous tribe.

Now, it is clear that those are not indigenous people and they just use the tribal clothes. Just as some of the youth here said that none of them participate in rallies, Albayalde said.

The leaders added that many of their fellow Lumads are unaware that they are being exploited by left-leaning groups.

They do not know why they are here in Manila. They get hurt in rallies. They are being used. Some offer a measly amount for their participation. Just imagine, they will bring them here to be in the frontlines of rallies and then they will be hurt. Then these groups will say the police mauled the IPs or the minorities, he added.

Albayalde said they will also look into the complaints of IPs that NPA members influence them to take up arms against the government.

We will have that verified. We will look into these schools to determine whether these are legitimate. The CHED (Commission on Higher Education) won't just sit back and let these schools do that, to the point that they are changing the national anthem), he said.

Authorities have long accused NPA members of indoctrinating lumads by allegedly teaching them the communist ideology.

Recently, the NPA has been implicated in the Red October plot, a supposed plan to unseat President Rodrigo Duterte.

Albayalde assured protection of Lumads and other tribes, as he urged them to coordinate with the nearest police station.

We instructed their leaders to coordinate with the police officers. Although we cannot provide them arms because that is illegal, we will give them protection through constant police patrols in their areas, he added.

The National Indigenous People's Month is celebrated every October pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 1906. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency