MANILA – Relatives of tribal leader Bae Bibyaon appealed to the groups in custody of the latter to let her return to her community.
During a virtual press briefing on Thursday, Bibyaon’s relatives who traveled all the way from Talaingod, Davao del Norte to Quezon City, said they have not seen her for years now.
In a message of Rurelyn Bay-ao, Bibyaon’s grandchild who previously worked with her since 2014 and joined the Lakbayan in 2015 but decided to surrender to the government, urged her to return to their community.
“If you want to defend our ancestral land, di ba palagi nating sinasabi ng organisasyon na yung sariling pagpapasya o yung self-determination, yung paguwi mo dun sa ating community (we have always said in the organization our self-determination, come home to our community),” Bay-ao said to Bibyaon.
Bibyaon’s relatives said they are not giving up, adding they wanted to meet her.
They said Bibyaon, 94, should be home with her relatives who can better take care of her.
She also made an appeal to the Save our Schools (SOS) Network currently holding Bibyaon inside the University of the Philippines-Diliman in Quezon City.
“Sa Save our Schools Network, maawa kayo kay Bae Bibyaon, matanda na po siya. Tama na yung paggamit sa aming tribu at lalong lalo na pauwiin nyo na si Bae Bibyaon (have pity on Bae Bibyaon, she is old already. Enough of using our tribe, allow Bae Bibyaon to go home),” Bay-ao said.
The SOS earlier held a virtual press briefing showing Bibyaon telling her relatives to stop.
Datu Benito Bigkay, her nephew, also told SOS to stop using Bibyaon.
He also urged Bibyaon to return to their community if she wants to fight for her tribe.
“Kung gusto mong tumayo sa sarili mong paa, doon tayo sa ating komunidad para mapansin at makita tayo ng gobyerno, hindi kung saan saan (If you want to stand on your own feet, do that in our community so the government can see and notice us, and not anywhere else),” he said.
CPP-NPA’s deceitful acts
Bay-ao said she knows how the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) and its legal front organizations move to get support from her fellow tribe members.
She said it would be even harder if they just stay silent and see the future of the youth, including her, and the lives of the IPs crumble.
“Gusto ko lang ipaabot na tama na yung panloloko, pagsasamantala, panlilinlang, yung paggamit sa aming mga tribu para makakuha ng malaking suporta, pera na isuporta sa CPP-NPA (I just want to say enough with the deception, abuse, and exploitation of our tribes to be able to get financial support for the CP-NPA),” she said.
“Dahil kung hindi kami magsasalita, kung hind namin isiwalat yung tunay na ginagawa ng mga front organization, mga CPP-NPA sa amin nung nandoon kami sa bakwit school na palaging sinasama sa pagra-rally ay maraming na re-recruit na hindi lang IP, mga kabataan na nasa lungsod kaya nandito kami para magsalita, kaming mga biktima ng patuloy na panlilinlang ay wala, hindi matuldukan yung kagagawan ng CPP-NPA (because if we will not talk, if we will not tell what the front organizations are really doing, the CPP-NPA when we were still in the bakwit school, that they always bring us to join the rallies, many youth will continue to be recruited, we, the victims, should talk, to put an end to all of this),” she added.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
Lawyer Josie Rodriguez-Agusti of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)-4A (Calabarzon) said they are also making an appeal on behalf of Bibyaon’s relatives.
Rodriguez-Agusti said legal remedies may be filed on behalf of the relatives if the groups holding Bibyaon refuse to listen to NCIP’s appeal.
“Maaaring sinasabi nila na nasa magandang kalagayan si Bae pero kinakailangan po talagang makita ng pisikal ng kaniyang mga kamaganak para talagang mapatunayan na siya ay nasa mabuting kalagayan. Kung hndi matugunan ang ating pakiusap may mga agarang kaso na maaaring magamit ng kaniyang mga kaanak sa tulong ng NCIP, ito yung isa sa mga sibil at agarang remedy na maaaring gamitin natin (They may be saying that Bae is in good condition but her relatives should be able to see her physically to prove that. If not, there are charges that may be immediately filed by her relatives with the help of the NCIP),” she said. (PNA)