An Open Letter to President Benigno Aquino from Concerned Canadians

Stop the Systematic Attacks on Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao

Dear President Aquino,

We, the undersigned individuals and organizations in Canada, are writing to express our urgent concerns regarding the violent attacks on Indigenous Peoples (Lumad) in Mindanao allegedly perpetrated by members of the Philippine Armed Forces and by paramilitary groups that are reportedly created and armed by the military and operating under its command. Human Rights Watch reports that “these forces are committing killings, torture, forced displacement and harassment of residents, students and educators with impunity.”

We are deeply alarmed by the systematic escalation of the campaign of attack on Lumads in recent months. Of the 58 victims of Lumad killings since 2010, 14 of the victims including Lumad children were killed from March–September 2015. Eleven of the victims were killed in 3 gruesome massacres.

  • On June 14, 2015, three Lumad leaders in Paquibato, Davao were reportedly killed when military troops strafed the residence of the leader of a local farmers’ association.
  • On August 18th 2015, five members of the Manobo tribe, including a 70-year-old blind farmer and 2 children were massacred in Pangantucan, Bukidnon by the 3rd Company of the 1st Special Batallion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
  • On September 1, 2015, members of a paramilitary group called Magahat allegedly killed Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Development, Inc.(ALCADEV) and two Lumads, and threatened to massacre the entire community causing the people to flee their community.

We strongly condemn the use of local paramilitary groups to sow terror among their own people resulting in mass displacement and evacuation of approximately 40,000 Lumad.

The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and the Sisters Association of Mindanao maintain that the attack on ALCADEV was not an isolated incident. Since April of 2014, 25 Lumad schools have been forced to halt operations due to military harassment and on the orders of the Department of Education. At least 84 separate attacks on 57 schools have displaced and disrupted the education of over 3,000 Lumad children. We strongly condemn this grave violation of children’s right to education.

As Canadians, we are concerned by reports that the Philippine government is sanctioning these military operations under its counter-insurgency program, Operation Plan Bayanihan, in order to suppress the resistance of Indigenous communities and clear the way for the entry of mining and other resource extraction companies. We are deeply troubled to learn that Canadian companies are among those having mining exploration or applications in these Lumad villages now under severe military and paramilitary attacks.

We support the rights of Lumad Peoples to struggle for social justice and self-determination within their ancestral territories, as embodied in the UN declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We support their struggle to defend their ancestral lands. We call on the Philippine government to respect the Lumad’s right to determine their own path to prosperity and to resist development plans on their land they believe will not benefit their communities.

We support the call of the indigenous peoples of Mindanao for the termination of the counter-insurgency program that justifies the systematic attacks on Indigenous Peoples.

We call on you as the President to order the immediate pull out of military troops from Lumad territories, to dismantle the paramilitary groups, to end the militarization of Lumad schools, to prosecute and convict the perpetrators of the killings as well as those in the chain of command, and to indemnify the victims of these atrocities.

Furthermore, we support the call of the Filipino people for the resumption of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in order to bring peace to these communities.


  • Perry Bellegarde, National Chief, Assembly of First Nations
  • Phil Fontaine, former National Chief, Assembly of First Nations & Officer of the Order of Canada
  • Matthew Coon Come, Grand Chief, Grand Council of the Crees and former National Chief Assembly of First Nations
  • Hon. Florfina Marcelino, Member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba
  • Hon. Mable Elmore, Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia
  • The Very Rev. the Honourable Lois M Wilson, Senator (retired) Companion of Order of Canada
  • The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop
  • The Right Rev. Jordan Cantwell, Moderator, The United Church of Canada
  • Paul Moist, National President, Canadian Union of Public Employees
  • Mike Palecek, National President, Canadian Union of Postal Workers
  • Emmanuelle Tremblay, National President, Canadian Association of Professional Employees
  • James Clancy, National President, National Union of Public and General Employees
  • Paul Meinema, National President, United Food and Commercial Workers Union
  • Robyn Benson, National President, Public Service Alliance of Canada
  • Very Rev. Terry Brown, Bishop-in-charge, Church of the Ascension, Hamilton, Ont.
  • Thomas Saras, President and CEO, National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada
  • Jim Manly, Member of Parliament (1980-1988)
  • Dr. Catherine Coumans, Asia Coordinator, Mining Watch
  • Monia Mazigh, Director, International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
  • Jennifer Henry, Executive Director, KAIROS, Canadian Churches Ecumenical Justice Initiative
  • Alan Quinn, Director of Intl. Programs, Leger Foundation
  • Jess Agustin, Asia program officer, Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
  • Mary Boyd, Director, MacKillop Centre for Social Justice
  • Meeka Otway, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada
  • Atty. Tim Louis, Co-Chair, Coalition of Progressive Electors
  • Atty. Michael Leitold, Steering Committee, Law Union of Ontario
  • Dr. Philip Kelly, Director, York Centre of Asian Studies, York University
  • Dr. Geraldine Pratt, Associate Dean, Dept. of Sociology, University of British Columbia
  • Dr. Dominique Caouette, Centre d’études de l’Asie de l’Est, Université de Montréal
  • Dr. Jill Hanley, Graduate Program Director, Dept. of Social Work, McGill University
  • Dr. Chin Banerjee, Coordinator, South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy
  • Rev. Jonathan Schmidt, Director, Canadian Churches Forum for Global Ministries
  • Kelly Moist, 2nd National President, Canadian Union of Public Employees
  • Dave Bleakney, 2nd National Vice-President Canadian Union of Postal Workers
  • Zenee May Maceda, National Representative, United Food and Commercial Workers Union
  • Atty. Charlotte Kates, Coordinator, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoners Solidarity Network
  • Aiyanas Ormond, Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle in Canada
  • Bern Jagunos, Coordinator, International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines Canada
  • Teresa Agustin, Chair, Migrante Canada
  • Rhea Gamana, General Secretary, Anakbayan Canada
  • Dr. Chandu Claver, Chair, BAYAN Canada
  • Pura Velasco, Chair, Caregivers Action Centre
  • Hermie Garcia and Mila Astorga-Garcia, Publishers & co-editors, The Philippine Reporter
  • Edwin Mercurio, President, Negrense Asociacion
  • Jessie W. Tuldague- President, Ifugao Association of Canada
  • Ben Corpuz, Vice President, Philippine Independence Day Council
  • Petronila Cleto, Chair, GABRIELA Ontario
  • Ace Montevirgen, President, CaSaMa-Zambales association
  • Hanna Kawas, Chairperson, Canada Palestine Association
  • Bert Monterona – International muralist
  • Irene Landry, Education consultant
  • Dr. Ravi Pendakur, Professor, Graduate School of Public and Intèl.Affairs, University of Ottawa
  • Dr. Rebecca Schein, Academic Supervisor Human Rights at Carleton University
  • Dr. Denise L. Spitzer, Professor, Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies, Université d’Ottawa
  • Camilla Gibb, Professor in Social Justice, Victoria College, University of Toronto
  • Dr. Stephen Collis – Poet and Professor,, Simon Fraser University
  • Dr. Valerie Raoul – Professor Emerita, Women’s Studies, University of British Columbia
  • Dr. Leonora Angeles – Associate Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies University of British Columbia
  • Dr. Rupa Banerjee, GATES Research Team, Ryerson University
  • Dr. Suzan Ilcan, Department Of Sociology and Legal Studies, University of Waterloo, Canada
  • Dr. Daniel O’Connor, Department Of Sociology and Legal Studies, University of Waterloo, Canada
  • Dr. Robert Diaz, Associate Professor, Ontario College of Art and Design University
  • Dr. Brian McDougall – Instructor, Carleton University
  • Bill Skidmore, Academic Advisor Human Rights Program, Carleton University
  • Dr. Jorge Frozzini, Professeur,Université du Québec à Chicoutimi
  • Dr. Aziz Choudry, Associate Professor, Dep’t Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University
  • Dr. Mélanie Dufour-Poirier, Professeure adjointe, Université de Montréal
  • Dr. Donald Swartz, Carleton School of Public Policy and Administration (Retired)
  • Rev. Shaun Fryday, Coordinator – Beaconsfield Initiative, United Church of Canada
  • Rev. Keith Simmonds, President, British Columbia Conference United Church of Canada
  • Rev. Rosemary Lambie, General Secretary, Montreal Ottawa Conference, United Church of Canada
  • Alden Habacon, Director, Intercultural Understanding, Equity and Inclusion, Univ. of British Columbia
  • Rev. Patricia Lissom, Director, St. Columba House
  • Rev. Desmond Jagger-Parsons, Head of delegation, 2014 Canadian Churches Philippine Learning Tour
  • Janet Gray -Regional Coordinator, KAIROS (BC-Yukon)
  • Janet McIntosh, Coordinator, KAIROS Metro Vancouver
  • Charles Boylan, Chair, International Solidarity Committee Local 21, Fed. of Post- Secondary Educators
  • Kate Murray, Moderator, Mining Justice Alliance, Vancouver
  • Martha Roberts, RM- Chairperson, Alliance for People’s Health
  • Santiago Escobar, Chair, Hugo Chavez Peoples’ Defense Front
  • Ysabel Tuason, Ontario Public Interest Research Group, Peterborough, ON
  • Parvin Ashfari, Coordinator, Iranian Centre for Peace, Freedom and Justice
  • Gloria Pavez, Coordinator, Cafe Rebelde Collective
  • Suzanne Baustad, Founding member, Grassroots Women
  • Paco Tejero, Founding member, Canada Philippines Solidarity Committee
  • Catherine Hooper, C.M, OLPH Church Social Justice Committee, Chateauguay
  • Paulina Corpuz, President , Philippine Advancement Through Arts and Culture
  • Nicole Cajucom, Executive Director, Kapisanan Philippine Centre
  • Rev. Dante Coloma, Philippine Independent Church- Mission of Holy Child-Greater Toronto Area
  • Honorio Guerrero, Director, Kathara Indigenous Pilipino Arts Collective Society
  • Dr. Alexandra Law, Board Member, Immigrant Workers Centre
  • Dr. Eric Shragge, Principal (retired), Community and Public Affairs, Concordia University
  • Dr. Martin Gallié, Professor of Law, Université du Québec à Montréal
  • Cora Santiago Aberin, President, Filipino Association of Montreal and Suburbs (FAMAS)
  • Fiel Salazar, Chairperson, PINAY – Filipino Women’s Organization of Quebec
  • Attorney Me Walter Chiyan Tom, Pinay Legal information Clinic
  • Kat Estacio, Coordinator, Pantayo Collective
  • Fr. Expedito Farinas – Rector, St. Mary (Anglican) Church Hill
  • Jojo Geronimo, member, ACLA (Asian Canadian Labour Alliance)
  • Sahar Golshan, member, Canadian Roots Exchange
  • Jennifer Noonan, Cree-Irish, Portland, OR
  • Rev. Irene Ty and Lee Holland
  • Attorney May Chiu

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