Mindanao tribal folk seek justice in Manila
Lumad leaders slit the neck of a rooster in a Banwaon ritual which means “to soften the heart,” in Manila Monday in an appeal for justice for extrajudicial killings, forced evacuations and large-scale mining in Mindanao.
The Banwaon datu (prince) and bae (princess) were among more than 70 delegates from various Mindanao tribes who traveled to Manila on a 10-day quest for justice called “Manilakbayan ng Mindanao: A Journey in Defense of Land, the Environment and Human Rights.”
They will meet with Mindanao legislators, church and government officials, students and diplomats and hold protest actions to “bring the Mindanao peoples’ voices from the margins to the center.”
Among the Manilakbayan delegates are widows of victims of extrajudicial killings and indigenous peoples displaced by militarization and large-scale mining.
Gingging Anlagan, 29, from Agusan del Norte, told of how her family of three children had to flee their home three times last year because of military and mining operations.
“(The relocations) disrupt the education and cultural growth of our children,” she said.
In an emotional speech, indigenous leader and antimining activist Erita Capion Dialang said mining company Xstrata-SMI didn’t care about the welfare of the tribal people.
Dialang is the sister Daguil Capion, who had declared a pangayaw (tribal war) against the mining company and whose pregnant wife Juvy and two children were killed in October reportedly by soldiers.
“We are here because Manila needs to listen to the marginalized peoples of Mindanao,”
said Dulphing Ogan, secretary general of Kalumaran, an alliance of indigenous tribes that headed the Manilakbayan together with Panalipdan Mindanao.
“It is ironic that Mindanao is considered the food basket, the wellspring of many natural, mineral and aquatic resources, but it is also the most neglected in terms of services, as these resources are plundered by foreign multinational corporations in cahoots with the government,” Ogan said.
People’s organizations and human rights groups met up with the delegates Monday in a salubong at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila, which was followed by a Mass at Quiapo Church, tribal dances, the beating of a gong to symbolize unity, the Banwaon ritual and a solidarity boodle lunch.
The salubong opened a series of activities that will culminate in a protest rally at Mendiola
near Malacañang to mark International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño said he hoped President Aquino would not dismiss the Manilakbayan as “mere propaganda like he did in New Zealand a few weeks back.”
Casiño said that of the 32 documented extrajudicial killings in Mindanao since 2010, 24 were of Lumad leaders who were against mining.
“The lives of Mindanaoans are being treated as mere collateral damage for gold, plantations, mega dams, coal-fired plants and other extractive industries which the Aquino administration itself is sponsoring,” he said.
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