Tribal folk give DU30 high score, but call for more attention
LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA—Indigenous peoples from Southern Tagalog and Mindanao on Wednesday gathered at the University of the Philippines Los Baños campus here as they prepare for the final leg of a caravan that seeks to bring their concerns to the attention of the national government.
Aboard buses, vans and jeepneys, at least 2,300 delegates to the “Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya” (Caravan of National Minorities), which consist of Mangyan, Dumagat and Pala’wan tribes from Southern Tagalog and lumad and Moro tribes from Mindanao, are on their way to the UP Diliman campus in Quezon City.
At the Mindanao group’s stop in Naga City earlier this week, lumad leaders said they gave President Duterte a rating of 8, in a scale of 10, in his first 100 days in office as they continue to press the government for action on their plight.
Kaerlan Fanagel, a B’laan leader and spokesperson of Lakbayan, said his group credited Mr. Duterte with an initiative to review and suspend mining operations in Mindanao.
Fanagel said the lumad also appreciated the administration’s move, through the Department of Agrarian Reform, to pursue land reform by issuing a two-year moratorium on land conversion.
He said the lumad would continue to call on the national government to stop the killings of tribal people and harassment of lumad schools in the hinterlands, which have been targeted by paramilitary groups.
Fanagel said the group, though, recognizes Mr. Duterte’s efforts to disband paramilitary groups in Mindanao.
“Now, President Duterte has told the Armed Forces of the Philippines to recognize that [the military] organized and armed these paramilitary groups. [This] shows that these paramilitary groups must be held responsible for the killings of lumad,” he said.
Fanagel said the group wanted to unite all indigenous peoples in the country so they could speak in one voice. —REPORTS FROM KIMMY BARAOIDAN, JUAN ESCANDOR JR. AND MAR S. ARGUELLES
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