Wednesday, November 18, 2015

LUMAD march from Liwasang Bonifacio to Mendiola - 13th Nov 2015

Manilakbayan 2015 is on, with mostly lumad, indigenous peoples (IPs) from Mindanao, coming to town on an awareness-building campaign. Monday evening, after a long grueling all-day caravan from Baclaran, down Taft to Liwasang Bonifacio, on to Mendiola, they finally arrived in UP Diliman where they will be staying for a week with a Kampuhan. 

After a week of Kampuhan at UP, the Lumad caravans moved and set up camp "Kampuhan" in Liwasang Bonifacio. However because of APEC meeting, the city government of Manila, evicted the Lumads from Liwasan on November 13th.  After the march in Mendiola the Lumads proceeded to Baclaran Church after the church authorities permitted the Lumads to set-up camp in that church.

According to an organizer of the lumad’s Manilakbayan 2015, officials of Redemptorist Church in Baclaran allowed them to stay there until Nov. 22.
Who are these lumad and why are they in Manila?

Lumad, which is Cebuano for “native,” refers to 17 " indigenous peoples" IPs  in Mindanao: Atta, Bagobo, Banwaon, B’laan, Bukidnon, Dibabawon, Higaonon, Mamanwa, Mandaya, Manguwangan, Manobo, Mansaka, Tagakaolo, Tasaday, T’boli, Teduray (or Tiruray) and Ubo.

The other major geographical area with many IPs is Palawan, but no collective term is used yet for them.

Wherever they are in the Philippines, IPs have suffered as their counterparts in other parts of the world did. Some groups have been able to fight back, exemplified by Macli-ing Dulag (1930-1980), a Kalinga leader who led the opposition against a proposed Chico River dam. Macli-ing was assassinated but the opposition continued and the dam was never built. (Chico River today is a growing tourist destination, known mainly for whitewater rafting and kayaking.)

The situation of the lumad has been more precarious than other IPs in the Philippines because Mindanao is so rich in natural resources. For decades now, the Philippine government encouraged settlers from other parts of the country to migrate to Mindanao, now a Promised Land.

In the 1970s, exploitation of lumad ancestral domains began to accelerate as local and foreign companies established agribusiness plantations and logging concessions. The martial law regime introduced low-intensity warfare, instituted Cafgus (Citizens’ Armed Forces Geographical Units) to keep IP communities under surveillance.

With massive deforestation, logging has declined, but plantations continue, and, in recent years, large-scale mining for valuable mineral resources. Civil unrest has escalated, with the New People’s Army increasing its influence in the area. In 2008, President Gloria Arroyo ordered the establishment of an Investment Defense Force (IDF) to guard business interests and infrastructure.

Save our schools

That IDF has backfired, alienating the lumad as well as, ironically, becoming a potential deterrent to bringing in business investments. A 2014 US State Department report notes human rights violations such as “extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances undertaken by security forces; a dysfunctional criminal justice system notable for poor cooperation between police and investigators, few prosecutions, and lengthy procedural delays; and widespread official corruption and abuse of power.”

The report goes on to note that these abuses are reported in the “extractive industries, power generation, agribusiness, real estate and tourism, especially in areas where untrained paramilitary groups have been deployed by the government as part of its Investment Defense Force.”

The Manilakbayan 2015 has a special “Save our Schools” focus, because military and paramilitary forces have been targeting lumad schools, on the suspicion that these are New People’s Army-influenced. The schools are alternatives to mainstream institutions, which tend to downgrade IP culture.

Schools have been raided and in September, three of the leaders of one lumad organization, Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) were assassinated. Ironically, Alcadev members were visiting UP Diliman at that time, and the killings have galvanized the university’s communities to action, from student groups to the Fighting Maroons varsity players, to the barangay.

Visit UP Diliman this week to learn more about the lumad.   Among the highlights will be a College of Music benefit concert for the lumad schools on Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. at the GT-Toyota. Thursday the whole day, the Kampuhan, which is on the grounds of the College of Human Kinetics, will be the site for cultural interactions. The closing ceremonies will be on Saturday, when the lumad move on to Liwasang Bonifacio for another three weeks, before heading back home to Mindanao.

There are no easy answers to many of the issues around development and IPs, but I will spend the week listening to the lumad, and sharing back thoughts with readers.

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Lumad Kampuhan sa Liwasang Bonifacio

13th Nov. 2015

Lumads marched to Mendiola - 13th Nov. 2015

Related stories :  

Lumad caravan leaves UP for Liwasang Bonifacio

Protect the Lumad our indigenous peoples

Kampuhan sa Liwasan Activity by LUMAD People

Lumad leaders leave Liwasang Bonifacio

Lumad protesters welcomed at Baclaran church

Lumad hemmed in by cops, watched by drone at Baclaran

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Grupo ng Lumad, nagkampo sa Liwasang Bonifacio

Cardinal Tagle, binisita ang mga Lumad sa Liwasang Bonifacio

Mga Lumad, nagsagawa ng solidarity night sa Baclaran Church

   Mahigit 100 pulis ikinalat sa Baclaran para sa APEC Summit

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