Lumad protest camp hidden from view
MANILA, Philippines – The Lumad protest camp at the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran has been reportedly blocked by officers and shipping containers, protesters claimed on Monday, November 16.
The protesters, called Manilakbayanis, moved to Baclaran from Liwasang Bonifacio after receiving a dispersal order last November 13, 2015. They briefly held a demonstration at the Mendiola Peace Arch before transferring to the Redemptorist Church.
Dolphing Ogan, one of the Lumad in the Baclaran camp, said 7 vans, along with police and fire trucks were blockading them - and more are expected to arrive in the next few days. Police officers stationed in the area were also supposedly preventing the Lumad from leaving the camp or staging any visible protest action.
OVERKILL! Aside from the hundreds of cops with their busses and firetrucks surrounding the #KampuhanSaBaclaran Lumad...Posted by Manilakbayan ng Mindanao on Sunday, 15 November 2015
A video from the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao's Facebook page also shows several buses supposedly blocking the vehicles preventing the protesters from reaching the National Cathedral of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente.
Since the night of their arrival at the church last Friday, members of the community already saw several PNP officers around the area. The container vans were then added in the morning of the 16th.
Ogan said the Lumad had not received information directly from the police, instead relying on the vendors who pass on the news to those in the camp.
Kerlan Fanagel, third nominee of Sulong Katribu, said protest leaders had tried to explain to the officers that they were merely exercising their right to freedom of expression and that the protests are peaceful, but to no avail.
"Kung may protests man, freedom of expression namin 'yun at 'di kami nanggugulo," Lumad leaders told police, according to Fagaran. (If we do hold protests, we have freedom of expression and we're not causing trouble).
For the planned rally on November 19, which would include indigenous people from around the Philippines, Ogan expects an even greater number of security forces to be present.
"What they're doing is overkill," said Ogan.
During the November 13 protests, initially planned as a solidarity walk called "Walk with the Lumad," Kerlan Fanagel accused the government of covering up their protests in preparation for the APEC summit. (READ: Erap gives Lumad until 6pm to disperse for APEC)
“Tinatanggal nila kaming mga magmumukhang basura sa mga mata ng mga APEC leaders,” Fanagel said. (They are asking us to leave because we would look like trash in the eyes of APEC leaders.)
Ogan was told the measures were in place to heighten security for the summit, but he believed it was an attempt to hide the Lumad from the visiting leaders. Fanagel also expressed the same suspicions saying, "They seem desperate to look clean."
For Ogan, the government's actions show their lack of regard for the Lumad. "They're not for the Filipinos, they're for other countries," he added.
Last Friday, Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna called attempts to disperse the protests an "international embarrassment," saying these reflect "the efforts of the government to hide this fact from the international community." – Rappler.com
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