‘Lumad’ protesters call for junking of Apec, eye march to Mendiola
Hoping that the nearby Malacañang Palace would notice their plight, the “lumads” or indigenous peoples of Mindanao who have been camping out in Manila since last month are eyeing to march to Mendiola, with their permit to stay in Liwasang Bonifacio set to expire on Friday noon.
Lumad leader Jomorito Goaynon, chairperson of regional lumad organization Kalumbay, told INQUIRER.net that they are disappointed with the administration of President Benigno Aquino III for prioritizing the country’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, and supposed insensitivity to their grievances.
“Dadaan kami sa Mendiola para maiparating kay Pangulong Aquino ‘yung pagkadismaya ng buong puwersa dahil kami ay hindi sinasagot, hindi pa pinapayagan na manatili sa Liwasang Bonifacio dahil sa Apec summit na mas prayoridad ng Pangulo, hindi ang mga mamamayang lumad sa Mindanao,” Goaynon said in an interview.
(We will pass by Mendiola to let President Aquino know of our disappointment over his neglect for our concerns. We were not allowed to stay at Liwasang Bonifacio because the Apec is the president’s priority and not the lumad people of Mindanao.)
Calling the Aquino administration as “inutil” (inutile) and “palpak” (bumbling), Goaynon lamented how government cut their protest actions short for the arrival of world leaders next week for the Apec summit.
Shouting “junk Apec” in unison while holding placards, the lumad protesters called for the junking of the annual international conference, saying that it condones “imperialist globalization” and environmental exploitation.
“Kaya nirehistro namin ‘yung mga hinaing namin dito. Hindi kinikilala ang mga hinaing ng mga katutubong lumad na pumunta dito sa Maynila upang iparating ang problema, kundi mas prayoridad ng preparasyon ng Pangulo ang mga dayuhan na pupunta dito sa bansa na mag-uusap ng business na siyang sumisira sa kalikasan, at pagnanakaw sa mga yaman dito,” Goaynon said.
(This is why we are airing our grivances here. The concerns of the lumad who came here to Manila are not being heard or addressed because the president’s priority is the preparation for the foreigners who will come to the country to discuss business that destroys nature and how to exploit the country’s resources.)
As their permit for camping out in Liwasang Bonifacio expired, Goaynon said the group is eyeing to transfer to Baclaran church as they will stay in the capital city until Nov. 22.
“Pupunta kami sa Baclaran church para doon na ituloy ‘yung pagkakampuhan namin dahil hanggang Nobyembre 22 pa kami dito sa Maynila, para ipagpatuloy ‘yung paniningil namin sa gobyerno, lalo na kay Pangulong Aquino, dahil sa patuloy na pagpapatupad ng Oplan Bayanihan na siyang nagbibigay ng maraming karahasan sa mga lumad,” he said.
(We are headed to Baclaran church to continue camping out there, since we are here in Manila until November 22. We will continue purusing our calls to the government, particularly to the President, because the continued implementation of Oplan Bayanihan brings about violence toward the lumad.)
The lumad leader added that they will participate with other sectors in holding rallies in Manila next week during the Apec summit, as a protest to big corporations that condone large-scale mining and plantation developments especially in ancestral lands in Mindanao.
“Hindi kami masaya at hindi kami sumasang-ayon sa Apec summit dahil ang pinag-uusapan dito, kung paano ipapasok ‘yung mga dambuhalang kumpanya ng pagmina, na hanggang ngayon ay malaking problemang hinaharap ng mga katutubong lumad sa Mindanao dahil ito ang dahilan kung bakit may militarization, bakit maraming pinatay, maraming kinakasuhan, maraming pinapaalis,” Goaynon said.
(We are dissatisfied and we disagree with the Apec summit because what is discussed there is the entry of big mining companies which is a major problem faced by the lumad of Mindanao since this is the cause of militarization, this is why many are being killed, many are being sued, and many are being evicted.)
Slamming the government’s supposed hand in the continuous militarization of lumad communities, Goaynon called on the President to turn his focus
“Sana ito ay pakikinggan ni Pangulong Aquino, para ito ay manahimik na, matagumpay na ang mga katutubong lumad sa aming pagtira sa aming mga komunidad,”
(Hopefully, President Aquino will listen to our grievances so that the lumad can live in peace in our communities.)
The protesters held a short program at Liwasang Bonifacio, which was attended by stage actress and women’s rights advocate Monique Wilson, activist Mae “Juana Change” Paner, and Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate.
Lumad leaders also led the protesters in the ritual killing of a chicken symbolizing solidarity.
The lumad groups started to camp out at the park in front of the Post Office building on Nov. 2 after staying for a week at the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman Quezon City. CDG
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