The trouble with us Filipinos is that we are easily appeased. Even when our expectations are not met, we tend to compromise more often than pursue what we want to achieve or gain.

And so when the president signed the free tuition bill, it made some people happy after he categorically said in what his apologists say “a figure of speech” that he will “bomb” Lumad schools as he tend to give more credit on his war-mongering soldiers that Lumad schools are “teaching communism”, even if these are but plain lies.

Republic Act 10931 is said to be an “act promoting universal access to quality tertiary education by providing for free tuition and other school fees in State Universities and Colleges, Local universities and colleges and State-run technical-vocational institutions, establishing the tertiary education subsidy and student loan program, strengthening the unified student financial assistance system for tertiary education and appropriating funds therefore.”

When pressed about the education budget that would support the bill, it is irritating to see him digressing, as if he was not really serious when he signed the bill.

It is as if it was nothing, but just a BIG joke.

Perhaps it is just an attempt to ease the tension that is building among the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) who are even more burdened by his careless pronouncements during his SONA 2017.

TODAY, the Indigenous Peoples, the Lumad in our midst are supposedly celebrating the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples the world over, which is considered a “major milestone with respect to the cooperation and solidarity between indigenous peoples and member States.”

But then, in a press statement issued by the United Nations on this day’s event, even the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples acknowledges that there is still “vast challenges (for the IPs) that remain.” The UN recognizes that the IPs all over the world “are now facing even greater struggles and rights violations than they did ten years ago.”

In most cases, the IPs continues to struggle against exclusion, marginalization and violence as these continue to be widespread, the UN stated.

Indeed, so little has been done by member States of the United Nations, if at all, to alleviate the suffering of our lumon IPs, and even the Lumad’s own efforts are being ignored and belittled by governments, and we know why.

The beckoning of affluence for so-called national leaders is too strong to be ignored by them, as this is easily done by corporate interests that knew so well how to go about it and circumvent whatever laws of the land that is supposed to protect the IPs and our ecosystem.

It’s a pity that this declaration from the UN, biggest assembly among nations sounds like an empty gong, no substance at all as apparently there is no teeth to these so-called universal declarations against the greed and plunder of national leaders and their sly hyenas in uniform who wait on them ready to pounce on the hapless Lumad who would resists.

Nevertheless, the Lumad continue to put up a fight for their survival.

One thing though that we, low-landers should realize is the fact that if the Lumad are gone, we, too, are all goners.

As stewards of whatever is left of our extensively ruined environment, the Lumad have been trying to put off the evil plans of corporate miners to extract everything from underneath the Lumad’s ancestral lands and destroy our kinaiyahan.

Everybody knows this, even the President has issued vague threats against big mining interests, although lamely.

Moreover, it is not a secret that the Lumad who have planted their roots on their ancestral lands are being uprooted in the name of “national interests”.

But who would protect them when the landed and the miners among law makers are lording it over and the ones calling the shots in both upper and lower houses of legislators?

No one will protect and fight for theirs (and our) interests for SURVIVAL but themselves, and yet, we, the low-landers have so little respect for the sublime deed that the Lumad are doing.

No one are more knowledgeable in ways to protect our environment more than the Lumad who continue to protect it with their lives and limb.

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