Free the Pangadas brothers! Resist the Marcos II regime’s assault on the people’s rights and democratic spaces!

The National Democratic Front in Southern Mindanao condemns the Philippine National Police’s illegal arrest of two Lumad brothers who attended the protest rally in Davao City during the first state of the nation address (SONA) of fake president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on July 25. The Lumad youths must be immediately released without condition and the perpetrators taken to task for the egregious crime.

The illegal arrest of Ismael Pangadas, 22, and Mawing Pangadas, 19, both from the Manobo tribe of Talaingod, is the clear handiwork of the regime’s unrelenting counterinsurgency campaign that continues to target activists and vocal critics of Marcos-Duterte tyranny. As usual, the PNP used trumped-charges—this time child trafficking—to embellish the illegal arrest of civilians.

Barely a month into his term, Marcos Jr. is making clear his illegitimate regime’s intention of continuing to victimize the Lumad and clamp down on the already shrinking democratic spaces of the Filipino people. While Sara Duterte-Carpio, Marcos Jr.’s vice president, had the gall to don a Lumad-inspired attire during the SONA, the Lumad brothers meanwhile were subjected to inhumane treatment for voicing the people’s nine-point agenda that included the protection of the rights and welfare of all indigenous people.

For the past six years, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the PNP, and their paramilitaries specifically targeted the Lumad and their communities for their historic resistance against the reactionary regime’s oppressive and fascist policies. For valiantly standing against the ruling class’ avaricious interests that encroach upon their ancestral domain, the Lumad masses suffered state-sanctioned violence in the form of killings, harassment, bombings, forced evacuation, terrorist-tagging, school closures, and many such economic and socio-political attacks. In arresting the two Lumad brothers, Marcos Jr. is adamant in carrying over the IP-centric counterinsurgency madness of the previous tyrannical Duterte regime, especially with the continuation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that is sure to mobilize its obscenely humongous budget to intensify the oppression of the Lumad.

The masses had been right to protest the first SONA of the illegitimate regime. The denialist and historically-distorted address not only obfuscated the objective state of the nation but also reminded revolutionary forces and the entire Filipino people to mount stronger resistance in order to protect their interests, rights and hard-won spaces for dissent.

Free the Pangadas brothers! Resist the Marcos II regime's assault on the people's rights and democratic spaces!