Mindanao groups will bring “fight” to Manila

Nov. 12, 2014

DAVAO CITY – Saying that their grievances were “unheard and neglected” by the national government, some 300 indigenous people, peasants, environment advocates and human rights group will travel to Manila Thursday in an activity dubbed “Manilakbayan.”

The Mindanao group will also join the Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) victims in Visayas, participants from Bicol and Southern Luzon before proceeding to mount a “Kampohan sa Kahiusahan sa Katawhan sa Mindanao” in Manila.

“The Aquino government is deaf to our plight, so we will struggle more as our problems could not wait for another more two years for the next president to listen to us,” Said Datu Doloman Dawsay, a Lumad (indigenous peoples of Mindanao) leader.

Dawsay, head of the Salugpungan ‘Ta Tanu Igkanugon (Unite to Defend the Ancestral Land) organization of Manobos in Talaingod, Davao del Norte was one of those who evacuated to Davao City earlier this year with a thousand others in the wake of intense military operations in their ancestral areas.

In a dialogue mediated by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo del Rosario with top officers of the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command of the Philippines, Salagpungan only agreed to return to their lands if troops from their communities were pulled-out.

“The Army pulled-out only to return later after a few months,” said Dawsay.

“They still occupied our schools and were near our communities which is clearly not the terms of our agreement with them,” said Dawsay.

Dawsay said that it is “clear” that the action of the Army is “a matter of policy laid down by the Aquino government’s Oplan Bayanihan (operation plan Bayanihan).”

A briefer of the 10-day “Manilakbayan” said 55 combat battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are in Mindanao and whose operations “have resulted in a spate of violations against International Humanitarian Law and other human rights conventions.”

“There are already more than twelve incidents of forcible evacuation of 39 Lumad communities in Mindanao in 2014 alone, affecting more than 1,112 families with over 4, 375 women, men and children,” said the paper.

Organizers of the Davao Region contingent say the Mindanao theme is “Food and Peace for MindaNOW!”

Environmentalist group Panalipdan! (Defend) Mindanao said that it is always “communities resisting heightening incursions by large-scale mining and big agribusiness ventures” who are under attack.

Panalipdan noted the increased interest of companies in the recent Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines (BIMP) – East Asean Growth Area (EAGA) especially in expanding banana and palm oil plantations.(davaotoday.com)

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