Text and Photos by Alex D. Lopez/davaotoday.com
MANILA, Philippines – Over 2,500 Lumads, Moro people and other sectors from various parts of the country now converge in Metro Manila for this year’s Lakbayan of National Minorities for Self Determination, Justice and Peace. Lakbayan will last until September 21. Almost half of them come from Mindanao. Other support groups from the peasant and religious sectors join the Lakbayan.
Lumad and Moro people together with their support groups will hit the major streets of Manila to protest the various forms of militarist options that they say are being used by the ”US-Duterte regime” to counter armed conflicts and other problems in the country.
Since the implementation of martial law in Mindanao, attacks in Lumad schools also intensified. The all-out war policy of the Duterte administration has also displaced thousands of Lumad and Moro residents in Mindanao, especially in Marawi.
The present administration’s perceived militarist policies are believed to have sent out security forces to kill with impunity Lumad and Moro leaders, particularly those who are involved in works for self-determination, justice and peace.
Protesters criticize what they call as continued adherence of the Duterte administration to ”neoliberal policies” and which they say push the Lumads, the Moro people and other sectors in the country towards hardships and poverty. They warn that government plan to convert big tracks of agricultural lands into plantations of high-value crops will directly benefit foreign and big business firms while ancestral lands of Lumads continue to face threats from big mining firms.
Delegates to this year’s Lakbayan resolved to expose what they believe is the collusion of the US and the Duterte administration and oppose its militarist and neoliberal policies. They said the present regime deserves condemnation from the national minorities and the entire Filipino people.