DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Bangsamoro and Indigenous Peoples in the country are joining the massive and nationwide protest in time with the State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In the midst of the attacks in their communities staged by state forces under the Duterte administration, leaders of national minorities and the Bangsamoro, including the advocates for their rights have recently forged unity in a convergence activity facilitated at the UP Diliman in Quezon City.
During the gathering, that carried the theme “Weaving Our Unity: A Gathering on the True State of the National Minorities”, leaders and advocates called for a stop to the attacks against national minorities in the country.
In a statement, the group said the manifestation to join the nationwide protest during the SONA of Duterte is aimed to expose the continuing attacks of the government and its forces to the civil, political and collective rights of the national minorities.
“Sobra na, tama na, wakasan na! Labanan ang pasistang atake ng rehimeng US-Duterte sa pambansang minorya! Ipagtanggol ang karapatan sa lupang ninuno, teritoryo at sariling pagpapasya!” the statement emphasized.
The group added that the intensifying fascist attacks have also worsened the plunder in ancestral lands and territories of national minorities.
“Around 31,000 troops are deployed in territories of national minorities. Due to intense military operations, over 60 incidents of forced evacuations, affecting more than 428,037 Moro and indigenous peoples occurred since July 2016. Most recently, on July 16, more than 1,600 Manobo evacuated in Lianga, Surigao del Sur. In May, over 600 Dumagat in General Nakar, Quezon fled their communities and remain in evacuation camps up to now. They experience harassment even in the evacuation centers,” said Jerome Succor Aba, a Moro leader and SANDUGO Co-chairperson in the same statement.
Aba’s group also reported that at least 67 national minorities were extra-judicially killed in the course of the Duterte’s “all-out-war” and “war on terror”.
At least 1,175 were illegally arrested and over a hundred face trumped-up criminal charges, they added.
“As the Bangsamoro and indigenous peoples confront the brunt of fascist attacks, Duterte aggressively opens up our ancestral land and territories to plunder by imperialist countries led by the USA and China and to big foreign and local capitalists,” Aba added.
The group also hit the massive entry of the so-called development projects, to include the large-scale mining, energy projects, mega-dams and plantations in the ancestral land of national minorities, especially in Mindanao.
The expeditious implementation of said projects are aided by the intensified military operations and the continued imposition of martial law in Mindanao.
The group Sandugo reported that at least 100,000 hectares of Bangsamoro territories in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Tawi-tawi are target for the expansion of agri-business plantations.
The 9,450 hectares New Clark City and the Capas-Botolan Road will also displace thousands of Ayta tribe in Tarlac, Pampanga and the Zambales Mountain Range, the group added.
“Duterte’s Build, Build, Build program gave priority to China-funded mega dams in ancestral territories of the Dumagat and Remontado in Quezon and Rizal, the Ayta of Tarlac, the Igorots of Kalinga, and Tumandok of Capiz. About 22,000 hectares of the Liguasan Marsh of the Bangsamoro is targeted for natural gas exploration. In the guise of “rehabilitation”, the sacred land of the Meranaw of Marawi is divided to benefit US, China, European Union, Australia, Japan economic interests and big corporations of the Ayala, San Miguel and others,” Aba said.
The group also criticized the railroading of charter change and the shift to federalism, saying that such move undermines the national sovereignty and patrimony of the Filipino people, especially the national minority.
“This scheme undermines our national sovereignty and patrimony, fully opens up the national economy for widespread plunder of our land and resources and worst establishes a dictatorship. Duterte’s Federal Constitution, his duplicity in the GPH-NDFP (Government of the Philippines-National Democratic Front of the Philippines) peace talks, and the recent enactment of the sham Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao do not address our aspiration for genuine self-determination,” Aba said. (davaotoday.com)