#Manilakbayan: Mindanao tribes demand a stop to Lumad killings
MANILA, Philippines – Nearly a week after their long journey against killings of Lumad or indigenous peoples in Mindanao, hundreds of participants of a protest caravan dubbed Manilakbayan are expected to arrive in the county’s capital on Sunday, October 25.
The caravan participants, who are called Manilakbayanis, travelled from Surigao City to Eastern Visayas, before crossing over to Luzon island, highlighting their call to stop human rights violations in various Lumad communities. (READ: TIMELINE: Attacks on the Lumad of Mindanao)
The campaign captured the national attention after a paramilitary group, on September 1, murdered a school director and two Lumad leaders in Surigao del Sur. (READ: #StopLumadKillings trends: Nasaan ang Pangulo?)
The spate of killings of rights activists and Lumad also alarmed two United Nations special rapporteurs who described the attacks as unacceptable and deplorable.
Challenge to President Aquino
Church groups and activist organizations from Southern Tagalog welcomed the Lumad and their advocates when they arrived in the region Saturday, October 24.
“We join our brothers and sisters in their journey from Mindanao to let the people in the national capital know about their sufferings and struggles, and to demand [that] Noynoy Aquino immediately take action. Their struggles are not different from what we are experiencing due to massive militarization and human rights violations in the region,” said Diana de Chavez, spokesperson of BIGKISAN-Southern Tagalog.
Various groups, including the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had earlier challenged the Aquino administration to probe the killings of the Lumad despite the alleged suspects’ links with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). (READ: CBCP dares Aquino admin: Probe Lumad killings; Christian churches condemn Lumad killings)
The military, however, denied any involvement in the death of Lumad leaders.
The spate of violence has already displaced nearly 3,000 indigenous peoples, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Week-long camp-out in Manila
From Quezon and Laguna provinces, an estimated 2,000 ‘Manilakbayanis’ will travel to Muntinlupa City where they are expected to be received by various advocates in Alabang Sunday morning.
The participants will proceed to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig where scores of political prisoners are currently detained.
“People from all walks of life have been waiting for the people of Mindanao in uniting to call for justice and plunder in their respective lands. We will be standing side by side with our Manilakbayanis from Mindanao as we assert our rights in Malacañang,” said De Chavez.
The delegates will spend Sunday night in Baclaran Church before going to UP Diliman, where a week-long camp-out will be held. – Rappler.com