DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Lumad leaders from Mindanao were among those who received blessing from Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, Archbishop of Manila and President of Caritas Internationalis in the Maundy Thursdays washing of the feet at the Manila Cathedral.
Cardinal Tagle washed the feet of 12 people coming from the community of migrants, refugees and displaced people.
Among the 12 were Datu Mintroso Malibato, chairperson of Karadyawan, an organization of indigenous people from Kapalong, Davao del Norte and Kaylo Bontolan who comes from Talaingod, Davao del Norte and currently deputy Secretary General of Pasaka Lumad Confederation.
Both Lumad leaders have gone to Manila to amplify their campaign to end the militarization in the Lumad communities in Mindanao.
“We are thankful that they see our struggle for land is for the benefit of the whole humanity. The struggle of the Lumad is similar to what Jesus Christ had experienced,” Kaylo Bontolan said.
Cardinal Tagle described that the struggle of the Lumad for land was not given justice as seen in the rise of extrajudicial killings and human rights violations committed to Lumad communities.
“There is recognition that we have long been victims of land grabbing and killings by state forces,” Bontulan said.
Tagle called on the Catholic community to embrace the plight of migrants and refugees during the Maundy Thursdays ceremony at the Manila Cathedral.
The call was in line with the challenge posed by Pope Francis to welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees.”
In his message on the celebration of the 51st World day of Peace, Pope Francis said “migrants and refugees are men and women in search of peace.”
“In a spirit of compassion, let us embrace all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands,” Pope Francis added.
Since the declaration of Martial Law, the PasakaLumad Confederation has monitored 18 incidents of aerial strikes in Lumad communities. They also reported that 68 Lumad leaders were victims of extrajudicial killings during the same period.
They also said 44 Lumad schools in Mindanao were forcibly closed due to intimidation by soldiers and paramilitary and around 7,000 Lumad families in Southern Mindanao have been displaced due to military operations.
Tagle visited the “Manilakbayan in Mindanao” in 2015 and described the indigenous people’s plight as very depressing and alarming. (davaotoday.com)