#Manilakbayan: UP Diliman welcomes 700 Lumad from Mindanao
MANILA, Philippines – With outstretched arms and clenched fists, hundreds of students, teachers, and workers at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman welcomed about 700 Lumad in front of the Oblation as night fell Monday, October 26.
"A sea of fighting people marching toward the Oblation! Serve the People! Mabuhay ang Kalumaran (Long live the Lumad)!” UP sociology professor Sarah Raymundo exclaimed in a Facebook post as the indigenous peoples approached the university’s iconic monument which signifies service to the country.
The indigenous peoples of Mindanao and their supporters arrived in Manila on Sunday, October 25, nearly a week after their long journey from their communities.
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)
On Monday, before proceeding to UP grounds where they will stay for a week, Lumad supporters took their main call #StopLumadKillings to social media and the streets of the country's capital.
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 UP Diliman community will accommodate the Lumad on campus for a week until Saturday, October 31, in support of the indigenous peoples' plight.
In a statement, the Save Our Schools (SOS) network at the university stressed that violence in the Lumad communities in Mindanao has to end.
"We could not allow it to desecrate the right to education. It is our responsibility, as a university, to stand up and support this right. Thus, we are hosting this the Kampuhan sa Diliman from October 26 to 31, 2015 to underscore this commitment. We are one with then many education and human rights defenders who support the struggle of the Lumad to rebuild and preserve their schools, their land, and their entire way of life."
"The UP community is one with the Lumad tribes in their fight for land and justice," UP Diliman University Student Council member Beata Carolino added.
Activists and other volunteers built tents and toilets at the UP College of Human Kinetics grounds, said Carolino, who helped with camp preparations.
During their week-long stay in UP Diliman, the indigenous peoples will share with students, scholars, and the public their distinct culture and their issues including the human rights violations allegedly committed against their communities in Mindanao.
Various scholars from the university have studied and written about indigenous peoples across the country including the Lumad.
Monday night's welcoming program includes the following activities:
Activists and Lumad who survived the attacks accused the military and paramilitary groups of the human rights violations.
According to Katribu secretary general Piya Macliing Malayao, 53 Lumad had been killed extrajudicially under the Aquino administration. Based on the group's documentation, the killings have intensified in 2015, claiming 13 lives as of September 1.
The military, however, denied any involvement in the death of Lumad leaders and the attacks on the indigenous peoples' schools and communities.
The spate of killings of rights activists and Lumad have alarmed two United Nations special rapporteurs, who described the attacks as unacceptable and deplorable.
The country is observing the National Indigenous Peoples' Month in October. – Rappler.com