MANILA — Lumad (indigenous people) leaders from Mindanao are reminding the Aquino administration about the six urgent demands they have been registering for days now since they arrived in Metro Manila last November 24 after a 14-day journey.
“The issue here is not spraying slogans during our protest action. It’s a trifle concern for a president. Instead, he should address the demands concerning our situation in Mindanao,” said Jomorito Goaynon, spokesperson of Manilakbayan ng Mindanao, referring to Aquino’s recent remarks on the November 29 protest action staged by participants of the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao and other supporters in front of his residence at Times Street, Quezon City.
He reiterated that the demands Aquino should be addressing are the following:
1. Pull out military troops from schools and civilian public places in the community and prevent further military deployment to Mindanao.
2. Stop the recruitment of armed paramilitary groups and disband existing ones. Investigate local warlords, private corporations and military battalions that provide logistical support and actively instigate the violation of human rights by these paramilitary groups.
3. Dismiss Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) charges, which criminalize leaders and members of progressive organizations.
4. Demand for the investigation and subsequent suspension of operations and notorious mining corporations for the environmental plunder and blatant violation of the comprehensive human rights of the communities, organizations and individuals that are adversely affected by their operations.
5. Demand for the immediate revocation of Department of Education Memorandum Order 221, which allows military to utilize schools and its facilities as their base camps.
6. Pull out US troops in Mindanao and the investigation of US enclaves in military camps in Mindanao.
He also found it an insult for the president to say that the spraying was “far worse than mining plunder and extrajudicial killings.”
“Such pronouncement all the more rub salt on the already deepening wounds of the families of the victims of extrajudicial killings and victims of human rights violations brought about by the incursions of huge foreign agro-industrial projects such as mining and plantations,” Goaynon said.
“But it is expected that a president like him who belongs to the oppressive landed class and obeys imperialist masters is bound to resort to issuing callous remarks,” Goaynon said.
“There is a big difference between a landed president who lives in a posh residence and indigenous people who got evicted from their simple dwelling huts by the projects of the president’s masters,” he added.
“The president defends his interest and that of his class. The indigenous people defend their ancestral lands and their very lives,” he said.
“The heart of the matter is that he is killing us.”
Over 300 people representing Mindanao’s different sectors and mostly indigenous people participated in the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao. They started their Manilakbayan (Journey to Metro Manila) last November 12 passing by Visayas, and the Bicol and Tagalog regions where their counterparts met and joined them. Presently having their “Kampuhan” (People’s Camp) in Liwasang Bonifacio, their Manilakbayan will conclude on December 10.
Manilakbayan ng Mindanao
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