A member of the Philippine National Police allegedly drew scribbles over a protester’s tattoo that featured indigenous peoples during the Independence Day celebration in Kawit, Cavite.
A photo of the deed was shared by The Manila Collegian, the University of the Philippines-Manila’s official student publication, on social media.
— The Manila Collegian (@MKule) June 12, 2019
Reports note that militant groups interrupted the Independence Day celebration at the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine on Wednesday, June 12 as it was about to start.
The protesters, according to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Tagalog spokesperson Casey Cruz, were protesting the country’s “fake” independence from foreign intervention.
“It has become even more ‘fake’ with (President) Duterte selling off our natural resources to the US and China,” she said in an interview.
Kawit police chief Major Richard Corpuz identified the protesters from Anakbayan, Bayan Muna and Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan-Kilusang Mayo Uno.
Ten of them were arrested for causing alarm and scandal during the rites.
There were also those who belong to the League of Filipino Students, among whom allegedly got his tattoo scribbled on by the police when he was detained.
The tattoo features two members of an indigenous community.
The PNP’s supposed act was condemned by some Filipinos who saw it, perceiving it a form of disrespect toward the minority groups.
Araw ng Kalayaan pero hinuli at kinulong mga pulis ang walong kabataan na nananawagan ng tunay na kasarinlan kanina sa Kawit, Cavite. Binaboy pa ng isang pulis ang tattoo ng isang hinuli. Iligal na ngang inaresto, hinaharass pa! https://t.co/mGF6sSwDYo
— Angelica Reyes (@anjkabataan) June 12, 2019
It also got the attention of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), a community-run Lumad school in Caraga, Mindanao.
In the countryside, state forces destroy our houses, burn our schools. In the cities, they vandalize imageries of IPs. 👏👏👏 https://t.co/5K44KaSiXh
— ALCADEV Lumad School (@alcadevinc) June 12, 2019
IPs being abused
Members of indigenous communities in the Philippines have been facing “government abuses” from state forces like PNP and the AFP for the past few years, according to New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch.
The international organization also noted that the Philippine government should “take concrete steps” to end violations of rights of indigenous peoples over their threatened ancestral domains.
“The brutality of the conflict in these communities is well-documented, with killings frequently carried out by poorly trained paramilitary groups and militias allied with state forces,” its February 2018 report read.
Earlier this year, the indigenous community in Mindanao petitioned against the extension of martial law in the region, claiming that it has only resulted in “continued impunity” by the military.
Lumads argued that military control “has resulted in an environment of continued impunity directed against Lumad schools, which have been harassed, intimidated and red tagged.”
Some of their schools have been taken over by state forces and used as barracks or as military camps ever since martial law was imposed, according to Save Our Schools Network-Cebu lead convener Jong Mozon.
President Rodrigo Duterte initially placed Mindanao under martial law in May 2017 following the Marawi siege, an armed conflict between government forces and militants affiliated with Maute, ISIS and Abu Sayyaf.