The archbishop of Cagayan de Oro has called out the government for banning the use of the term “lumad” when referring to indigenous peoples in Mindanao.
In a statement addressed to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Archbishop Jose Cabantan of Cagayan de Oro said that even words are now being used to red tag citizens.
“The State’s red scare campaign is now targeting even words,” the archbishop said. “Directly associating the word Lumad with the NDF-CPP-NPA as if this word was coined by the communist rebels and, consequently, banning it from popular usage is a total disservice to the history of the struggles of the indigenous peoples.”
Cabantan’s statement comes after the NCIP issued a resolution on March 2, denouncing the use of the term “lumad” and urging indigenous groups to use their ethnic group names instead. (Read: Get to know this local café that has indigenous farmers as its business partners)
“The word is not an indigenous term. Its emergence and continued use are marred by its association with the Communist Party of the Philippines, National Democratic Front, and the New People’s Army, whose ideologies are not consistent with the cultures, practices, and beliefs of indigenous people,” the NCIP said in Resolution 08-009-2021.
Disservice to Indigenous Groups
According to Cabantan, the NCIP resolution is “far from historical truth,” thus making a disservice to the Filipino lumads who have been continuously struggling in Mindanao for the past six decades. (Read: Meet The “Cowboy Cop” who protects the indigenous tribes of Cagayan de Oro)
“This is furthest from the historical truth. The NCIP’s resolution only reveals the Commission members’ ignorance as to how the lumad’s struggles unfolded in Mindanao in the last 60 years,” Cabantan said.
The archbishop added that the Cebuano word, which means “indigenous” or “native,” was actually borne out of the series of meetings between church groups and IP communities since the 1970s. (Read: Catholic Bishops, Schools Raise Concerns About Red-Tagging)
“All they could have done was… to gather all published and unpublished books, articles in journals, and documentations from various sources so they could have known how lumad, as a word referring to Mindanao’s IPs, entered popular usage. A number of these are readily available,” he said.
To end his statement, Cabantan urged the NCIP to reconsider its resolution and advised them to not be derailed in their mandate to serve the IPs of this country. “[Stop] engaging in actions that are only counter-productive and can only lead to fragmentations among our ranks,” he said.