DAVAO CITY – At least 2,500 protesters led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Mindanao marched around the city on Monday as part of the nationwide protest against President Aquino’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Dressed in the Matigsalog tribe’s traditional garb, Cristina Lantao said the indigenous people in Mindanao can testify that the present administration has failed in providing genuine change in the communities.
“We experienced no economic and social development in our villages. In fact, one of the highlights of his administration is the inhumane treatment of the lumads after Typhoon Pablo devastated Mindanao,” Lantao said.
“During the relief operations, we were given spoiled rice. We were treated like animals,” added Lantao.
Lantao said militarization has also worsened in the countryside.
“The presence of military troops and agents worsened in our communities. Yes, Oplan Bayanihan is being presented in the cities as a campaign for peace and development but in reality this is a tool for human rights violations. I am urging everyone to go to our villages and witness first-hand how we are being harassed and threatened almost every day,” Lantao said.
Large-scale mining and logging operations are the reasons behind the massive militarization, Lantao said.
“The soldiers were deputized as security personnel of these large-scale mining and logging companies. They are also being used to drive us away from our ancestral lands,” she commented.