Archbishop Jose Cabantan of Cagayan de Oro.
By Tracy Cabrera
INTRAMUROS, MANILA — Following a government directive ordering the banning the use of the term ‘lumad’, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples (ECIP) condemned the Duterte administration for associating the said term with indigenous peoples (IPs) as communists and insurgents.
In recent times, ‘lumad’ has been a widely recognized term referring to indigenous groups in the country’s Mindanao region but based on the directive to ban the word, it appears that since ‘lumad’ is associated with the Communist Party and its armed wing the New People’s Army, it appears that the government’s National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) is in agreement that IPs may be considered as communist rebels.
“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 stated in an explanatory note.
However, Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Jose Cabantan disputed this claim, saying the order was effectively branding indigenous people as communists and rebels.
“Directly associating the word ‘lumad’ with (insurgents) as if it was coined by the communist rebels and consequently banning it from popular usage is a total disservice to the history of the struggles of indigenous peoples,” Cabantan pointed out.
The prelate added that associating the word with the Communist Party was far from historical truth.
“The (NCIP’s) order only reveals its members’ ignorance as to how the struggles of the Lumad have unfolded in Mindanao over the last sixty years,” he stressed.
The order also stated that the term ‘lumad’ was used in a disparaging way as a refusal to recognize indigenous people’s identity and rights.
“The term has no ancestral domain of indigenous territory to speak of and is condescending and derogatory,” the NCIP’s chairman and Mindanao commissioner Allen Capuyan countered.
To this Archbishop Cabantan called Capuyan’s claim erroneous, emphasizing that the word did not come from an ideological origin but from a united concern to defend indigenous peoples’ rights.