CEBU CITY, Philippines – More than 300 Lumad and Moro delegates from Mindanao set their foot in this premiere city in the Visayas on Tuesday morning, Aug. 22, to join the nationwide patriotic journey dubbed as “Lakbayan of National Minorities 2017.”
But more than the usual travels that tourists do, the members of the national minority are here for a three-day “Kampuhan” or camp out to inform the Cebuanos of the upshots of martial law in Mindanao and the continuing militarization that cause the displacement of Lumad and Moro communities.
“We welcome you all here in Cebu. Now, the Cebuanos will hear stories from Mindanao that will reflect the true situation of the people, especially of the national minorities,” said Jaime Paglinawan of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Central Visayas.
Paglinawan called on the people of Cebu to listen to the accounts of the Lumad and Moro people from Mindanao for enlightenment as the government “has since spreading false information on the real situation of the people in the island-region.”
During the three-day campout, the participants are scheduled to talk to series of forums and gatherings and schools and religious groups.
They are also set to sail to the island of Masbate for another round of camp out before proceeding to the main island of Luzon for a month of Lakbayan in Metro Manila.
Delegates will also join fora, symposiums and other modes of public discussions with the aim of informing the public of real character of the US-Duterte regime.
Protest actions will also be conducted to show the peoples’ discontent and opposition to the programs and policies of the Duterte administration.
More than a year into his office, Lakbayan leaders claimed the regime of President Rodrigo Duterte has offered no concrete solutions to the plight of the national minorities in the country.
They also assailed the continuing dominance of US imperialism in the Philippines and the control and monopoly of big companies and capitalists into the businesses in the country.
“These interests of capitalists have caused the dislocation of communities and the killings of lumad leaders in Mindanao,” said Datu Jimboy Mandagit, a lumad leader from Bukidnon.
Mandagit said hundreds of families from Bukidnon have evacuated in the past months and are now staying near the Provincial Capitol Building in Malaybalay City due to massive militarization.
“These capitalists want to mine our ancestral lands,” he pointed out.
Plans to open large-scale plantations in Mindanao were also hit by leaders of Lakbayan.
The policy, they said, indicates that the administration of Duterte, especially its cabinet members will continue to serve the interests of foreign business and capitalists.
“The Department of Agriculture is targeting one million hectares of palm oil plantation in the country,” said Pedro Arnado of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Southern Mindanao.
In fact, Arnado added, the DA is set to open around 50,000 hectares of oil palm plantation in the island-region.
He said the increase of plantations, not only in palm oil but also of other crops that will feed the interests of foreign businesses and capitalists will threaten the food security of the country and the livelihoods of peasants and farmers in the countryside.
Militarization in communities
The protesters also said martial law has intensified the all-out war policy of the Duterte regime especially to the Moro communities in Mindanao.
Hasan Abdul Hasiz of the Liga ng Kabataang Moro said aerial bombings and massive ground operations have inflicted severe damages to the Moro communities in various parts of Mindanao.
The campaign against terrorism that was also stepped up by martial law has paved the way to “Islamophobia” that threaten and discriminate most of the Moro people in Mindanao, Hasiz said.
The destruction of Marawi was also decried by Sultan Macara Sampuan, a Maranaw leader.
Sampuan said the continuing air and ground assaults have already caused devastation to the lives of the Maranaws.
The martial law also triggered the increase of human rights abuses in Mindanao, the Lakbayan leaders asserted.
“More military troopers from nearly 10 battalions of the army are now operating in the hinterlands of Sultan Kudarat province. These massive military activities started when Duterte declared martial law,” said Minda Dalinan, a lumad leader. (davaotoday.com)