For the first time, the unified ranks of indigenous peoples and Moro bring their calls to the National Capital Region.
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – The caravan of Moro and indigenous peoples from the north and south of the country will arrive in Manila tomorrow, Oct. 13, to push – for the first time – the unified call of the Philippine national minorities for the right to self-determination and against militarization and plunder of ancestral domain.
Dubbed Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya para sa Sariling Pagpapasya at Makatarungang Kapayapaan (Journey of the national minorities for self-determination and just peace), at least 3,000 marchers will converge in a grand salubungan in Mendiola near Malacañang Palace tomorrow mid-afternoon.
The combined groups of indigenous peoples from various parts of the country, along with Moros from Mindanao, expressed support for President Duterte’s foreign independent policy and the peace negotiations, but urged for concrete measures that will protect ancestral domains from foreign plunder and protect people from the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan.
“We urge President Duterte to make concrete his promise of change to the Filipino people, that will also encompass his marginalized and minoritized brethren to pave way for meaningful changes,” said Piya Macliing Malayao, secretary general of the Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu).
Indigenous peoples make up 10 to 15 percent of the Philippine population, while Moros comprise five percent.
Katribu said soldiers and paramilitary groups continue to roam, even encamp in communities. The Lumád evacuees in Surigao del Sur and Bukidnon have returned home, but attacks on indigenous leaders continue, in Mindanao and other parts of the country.
On Oct. 12, Mandaya peasant leader Jimmy Saypan died in a hospital from gunshot wounds, a day after he was shot by motorcycle-riding gunmen in Montevista, Compostela Valley. Saypan, 48, was the secretary general of Compostela Farmers’ Association (CFA), which had strongly opposed the entry of the Agusan Petroleum Corporation (Agpet) in Lumád communities in Compostela.
Pasaka Confederation of Lumád Organizations had condemned the killing, which they blamed on the 66th infantry battalion. The military had branded Saypan and other CFA leaders as members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
The groups also expressed support for the peace talks between government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The substantive agenda on social and economic reforms and political and constitutional reforms both include the right to ancestral lands and right to self-determination, respectively.
People’s camp in UP Diliman
Today, Oct. 12, the Cordillerans, Aytas, Dumagats, Ibannags and other tribes from the regions of Cordillera, Ilocos and Cagayan Valley met up with those from Central Luzon and staged a protest at the Northern Luzon Command headquarters in Tarlac City, Tarlac.
The Luzon contingent is set to arrive early evening at the Kampuhan (people’s camp) in the University of the Philippines Diliman campus in Quezon City.
Also today in UP Los Baños, Laguna, the Bigkis at Lakas ng mga Katutubo sa Timog Katagalugan (Unity and Strength of Indigenous Peoples of Southern Tagalog, or Balatik) held its regional conference, with Mangyans from Mindoro, Dumagats from Rizal, Quezon and Laguna, and Pala’wans from Palawan.
In Calamba City, Laguna this afternoon, the Southern Tagalog contingent joined with Mindanaoans which left Surigao del Norte on Oct. 8.
The Mindanaoans have travelled through Eastern Visayas and Bicol regions, where they met up with progressives in Tacloban city, Leyte and Naga City, Camarines Norte.
On Oct. 14 to 15, the groups will hold an assembly for the formation of Sandugo, the Movement of Moro and Indigenous People for Self-Determination.