The Lumad 7, including volunteer teacher Chad Booc, were released on May 13, 2021 after three months of illegal detention under police custody. The Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of Davao del Norte found insufficient evidence, lack of probable cause and lack of territorial jurisdiction on the charges filed against them.
The dismissal of the trumped-up charges and the release of the Lumad 7 from illegal detention by the police are victories of the people, particularly of the Lumad in their struggle for the right to education and self-determination. We laud the Lumad students and their teachers for remaining steadfast in the struggle despite the intensifying state attacks and persecution against the Lumad Bakwit Schools and their communities. This victory is a validation of the Lumad and the peoples’ strength to fight the tyrannical US-Duterte regime.
The Lumad’s community effort in establishing Lumad schools to provide education to their children and youth is a manifestation and an assertion of their right to self-determination. Teaching and establishing schools for the people is neither a criminal nor a terrorist act.
We hold the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and the US-Duterte regime accountable for these baseless accusations and relentless attacks on Lumad schools. We also hold the Department of Social Welfare and Development liable for becoming instruments of the military to detain, harass and traumatize the Lumad.
The Lumad and all indigenous peoples will persevere in the struggle for justice, right to education and self-determination. We will continue to resist the attacks and hold Duterte, the military and the police accountable for all their crimes and atrocities against indigenous peoples and their communities.