“We promised our family that we would seek justice no matter what hardships we might encounter. The Manilakbayan will be just one among many journeys we are willing to take to achieve this.”
MANILA – The protest caravan called “Manilakbayan ng Mindanao 2015” kicked off from different provinces of the island on Oct. 20, starting its 1,000-kilometer journey to Manila, to bring its calls against militarization and human rights violations, environmental destruction and plunder.
Some 700 protesters – mostly Lumád evacuees and victims of human rights violations– joined the trip, which will be by bus, and alternately on foot, as they will march in the town and city centers.
In the evening of Oct. 21, the different delegation from the regions of Caraga, Socksargends, southern, and northern Mindanao converged at the Lipata ferry port in Surigao City, Surigao del Norte, to take the ferry to Leyte province.
Both the journey and the destination matters, as the caravan will be joined by other people’s organizations in the route it will pass through in different provinces: Leyte and Samar in the Visayas, Sorsogon in Bicol region, Quezon and Laguna in Southern Tagalog, then, onwards to southern Metro Manila.
The Manilakbayan is expected to arrive in Manila on Oct. 26. They will head back to Mindanao on Nov. 22.
For the third time since 2012, the protest caravan carried the calls: “Stop the Attacks on our Schools, Communities, and People! Support the people’s resistance to militarization and plunder in MindaNow!”
Among those who began the trip from Cagayan de Oro city, Misamis Oriental, is Hermenio Samia Jr., whose father Hermenio Sr. two brothers, cousin and uncle were killed by soldiers of the 1st Special Forces battalion in Mendis village, Pangantucan, Bukidnon on Aug. 18.
“We promised our family that we would seek justice no matter what hardships we might encounter. The Manilakbayan will be just one among many journeys we are willing to take to achieve this,” Samia was quoted in a statement by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region.
Many of the “lakbayanis” come from communities and groups which the military and paramilitary groups have persistenly red-tagged as supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA).
“Here are the people they have accused to be rebels,” said Jumoring Goaynon, chairperson of the northern Mindanao Lumád group, Kalumbay, and first nominee of Sulong Katribu partylist.
“It is very easy for the government to put our demands aside because we are far. So, here we are, once more marching towards them. And we are marching as we are in our communities, without guns, but with our determination to assert our rights,” Goaynon said.
Upon arrival in the National Capital Region, Manilakbayan will set up a “Kampuhan” (People’s Camp) at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. The camp will later transfer to the Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila. With video report by Kilab Multimedia