SAN AGUSTIN, Surigao del Sur – More than 1,600 Lumad evacuees took the national highway on Monday, July 30, in a bid to reach the provincial capital Tandag City, as a protest against the military encampment of their communities.
The Lumad evacuees previously stayed at the Barangay Diatagon Gymnasium in Lianga town from July 16 after soldiers set up a detachment in Km. 9 Simowao, a rural village in Diatagon since June 14.
READ: Surigao Lumads flee from ‘militarized’ communities
Sherwin Tejero, council member of MAPASU, said they decided to travel to Tandag City after they experienced “series of harassments by government troops and the local government’s lack of support to provide water supply and sanitary facilities at the evacuation site.”
MAPASU or Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod is the local indigenous people’s group that led the evacuation of Lumad residents of 14 villages in the towns of Lianga and San Agustin.
The evacuees cried foul over soldiers and police who threatened them for joining the evacuation.
Religious and civic groups were reportedly barred from visiting and bringing foods to the evacuees.
Tejero said they were left with no choice but to walk an estimated 88-km distance from Lianga to Tandag City because soldiers threatened to file charges against the drivers of the vehicles to be used by the evacuees.
Despite the scorching heat of the sun, Lumad evacuees along with their children, elderly and pregnant women endured the whole day trek to San Agustin town.
The evacuees started their journey in the early morning of Monday. While some were on their motorcycles, majority of the evacuees travelled on foot carrying their belongings, pets, and animal livestock. (Mara S. Genotiva/davaotoday.com)
Motorcycle rides were maximized by riding children on top of mounted sacks of miscellaneous belongings. (Mara S. Genotiva/davaotoday.com)
The evacuees were met by several military checkpoints along the way. (Mara S. Genotiva/davaotoday.com)
The flag of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) at the front line of the march. (Mara S. Genotiva/davaotoday.com)
A soldier takes video and photos of every individual who walk past a military checkpoint along the national highway. (Mara S. Genotiva/davaotoday.com)
Military vehicles blocked the evacuees from passing the road.They were allowed to pass after dialogue between Lumad leaders and soldiers. (Mara S. Genotiva/davaotoday.com)
An elderly carrying his belongings in a sack joins the “long march”. (Mara S. Genotiva/davaotoday.com)
A Lumad uses a dried leaf as an umbrella as they walk for hours. (Mara S. Genotiva/davaotoday.com)
Half of the Lumad evacuees are schoolchildren of Lumad schools TRIFPSS and ALCADEV. (Mara S. Genotiva/davaotoday.com)
Some Lumad evacuees bring along their animal livestock. (Mara S. Genotiva/davaotoday.com)
A mother breastfeeds her child during break time. (Mara S. Genotiva/davaotoday.com)
A boy takes time to rest beside the road around noon. (Mara S. Genotiva/davaotoday.com)