The earth rumbles: 3,000 Moro and Indigenous Peoples march to Manila “Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya” officially begins
On the 100th day of the Duterte administration, Moro and Indigenous peoples from communities all over the country are set to come to Manila to assert their long-trampled right to self-determination and to push for a genuinely independent foreign policy.
The “Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya para sa Sariling Pagpapasya at Makatarungang Kapayapaan” is a 3,000-strong caravan of Moro and indigenous communities from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, who are all set to bring their plight to the Metro to pressure the center of power to act on their demands for self-determination.
The indigenous peoples have lauded the Duterte administration for supporting the safe return of the UCCP Haran Lumad evacuees to their community. We have also welcomed the restart and acceleration of the stalled peace talks with the National Democratic Front with vigilance and guarded optimism. Despite a somewhat lacking basis for mining firm suspension (human rights violations are not part of the criteria), the indigenous and Moro communities supported the strings of suspension of destructive mining firms.
However, Moro and indigenous communities all over the country still suffer the rampant attacks on our ancestral lands and territories, with agro-industrial and mining projects still planned to ravage our communities. To date, 8 indigenous peoples were killed under the administration of President Duterte due to acts of land grabbing by despotic landlords. The military is still violating the ceasefire imposed by the president and continuing their operations in civilian communities, from intelligence gathering and civil military operations to outright harassment and military campaigns.
Though these mixed positive and negative developments were recorded, the Moro and indigenous peoples are still firm in continuing our struggle for our right to determine path, starting from our right to self-governance and use of ancestral lands as we deem fit with our culture, tradition and community development, to freedom from military intervention by state forces and dictates by foreign interests.
The president’s current pronouncement about an independent foreign policy is timely and sits well with the Bangsamoro and indigenous communities due to our historical experience with foreign intervention and plunder of our resources.
Since the Spanish colonization period and subsequent American occupation and neocolonial rule, Moro and indigenous communities have taken different forms of attacks against our right to self-determination. From the demonization of culture, discrimination, economic displacement from our ancestral lands, and downright violation of basic human rights, the Moros and indigenous peoples have always been treated as second-class citizen in our own land. The Bud Dajo massacre, Macliing Dulag’s assassination, and the recent killings of Lumad leaders are grim reminders of how the national minorities are being sacrificed for foreign interests.
Despite this dire situation, the national minorities are more determined than ever to fight for the right to self-determination and to support the people’s clamor for genuine social change and just peace. This call is decisively echoed with this year’s theme of “Lakbayan”.
The “Lakbayanis” are set to camp at UP Dilliman on the day of their arrival, October 13 and will stay for different protest actions and activities all over the Metro until October 21. #