Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mindanao IP holding protest caravan arrive in Bicol
By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 10 (PNA) -- Militant activists from Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)- Bicol warmly welcomed thousands of indigenous people (IP) belonging to the Bansa Moro and Lumad tribes in Mindanao who arrived on Monday at Matnog Port in Sorsogon for a protest caravan asking the government to protect their ancestral domain rights.

Vince Casilihan, Bayan Bicol spokesperson, said 38 passenger buses and seven vans carrying thousands of IP on board Roll-on Roll-off (RoRo) sea vessels from Tacloban City arrived at 6 a.m. Monday at the port in Matnog.

He said the Mindanao caravan led by Sultan Maskasalong, a tribal leader of Bansang Moro in Northern Mindanao, is set to hold rallies in the cities of Sorsogon, Legazpi and Naga as part of their protest action in Bicol.

Casilihan said the group will hold a torch parade in Naga City and will rest overnight at the Jesse Robredo Coliseum.

On Tuesday, the caravan will proceed to Barangay Tabugon, Sta Elena town in Camarines Norte, where they will converge with other IP groups from Quezon, Mindoro and Romblon.

The caravan dubbed as "Lakbayan ng mga Pambansang Minorya para sa Sariling Pagpasya at Makatarungan Kapayapan" (Lakbayan of the indigenous people for self-determination and a just peace) will ask President Rodrigo Duterte's administration to end the human rights abuses committed against the IP.

Upon reaching Metro Manila, the caravan will stay at the University of the Philippine in Diliman, Quezon City for a series of forums and dialogues.

Their culminating event is a march to Malacanang on October 21 for an audience with the President.

The group will ask President Duterte to push for programs that would help the IP strengthen and protect their rights with respect to ancestral domain, religion, culture and seek justice for the killings of Lumads and other tribal groups.

They will also urge the chief executive to put an end to the economic and environmental blunders committed by private mining companies and government officials.

The Mindanao Caravan started on Friday from the Soccsksargen region (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani provinces and General Santos City), from where they proceeded to Zamboanga, Maguindanao, Lanao, Bukidnon, Cagayan De Oro, Surigao City and Tacloban City. (PNA) FPV/GVR/MSA/EDS