By RED CARAO
MANILA – The University of the Philippines-Diliman welcomed a group of Lumad who arrived from Mindanao today, July 20, in time to join the big rally on President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) this Monday, July 24.
Forty-seven Lumad, most of whom are youth and students from the Caraga region, are the first of Lakbayanis — members of the major protest caravan of indigenous peoples and Moro, the Lakbayan 2017 set to come to Metro Manila this coming September. A hundred more Lumad are expected to arrive from Southern Mindanao on July 23 to join the SONA protest.
Progressive youth groups and staff in UP’s flagship campus officially welcomed the Lakbayanis during a short program at Quezon Hall. The Lumad will be staying at UPD’s International Center until September for the Lakbayan.
Kenneth Cadiang, volunteer teacher for Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development or ALCADEV, thanked the UP community and the other sectors that accommodated them readily in UP Diliman. Far from UPD’s warm welcome, however, Cadiang shared their group’s experience getting out of Mindanao with the tight security because of martial law.
“Patuloy pa rin ang harassment [mula sa militar], kahit verbal harassment, intimidation, at interrogation,” Cadiang said, “Pero syempre kami, patuloy naman kami sa pagpapaliwanag sa kanila.”