From north to south, indigenous peoples reject Apec, Aquino


18 November 2015

“Here in Manila, the Apec leaders meet, while we, the indigenous
peoples, are being shooed and driven away. We have the anlasiw to show
our strong unity as fighting people from Northern and Central Luzon,
Southern Tagalog and Mindanao. We will continue to unite against the
US-Aquino regime.”

MANILA – As the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders’ Summit
opens today, Nov. 18, indigenous peoples from the Cordilleras, Northern
and Southern Luzon met with the Lumád of Mindanao at Mendiola Bridge in
the early morning here, in a unity march against globalization.

Under the banner of #MartsaAmianan (march of the north), the
Cordillerans and peasants from Ilocos and Cagayan Valley region arrived
in Manila today, after a whole night of travel, harassed by bomb threats
as they boarded public buses, and bogged by stops at police checkpoints.

Amid tightened security and restrictions against rallies, the indigenous
peoples are all geared up for the protests today, until tomorrow, as
they make their point against Apec, a 26-year-old forum which they said
had pushed neoliberal policies that opened the country to large-scale,
destructive extractive companies that encroached into their ancestral lands.

The Manilakbayan ng Mindanao have opened the salvo of protests when they
arrived on Oct. 26, calling for justice for slain Lumád leaders, and a
stop to attacks in the Lumád communities and schools. The Mangyans and
other activists from Southern Tagalog, meanwhile, are on their fifth day
in Manila and have staged protests at the US embassy and Supreme Court.

Traitor to the tribe

“We are here in Manila to fight for our right to self-determination, and
for our ancestral domain…This government is a traitor to the indigenous
peoples,” said Windel Bolinget, chairperson of Sulong Katribu partylist
and secretary general of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA).

Bolinget said President Aquino approved 720 mining applications covering
one million hectares of indigenous ancestral lands in the Cordillera
Region. He said among these are mining companies from Apec-member
countries, US, Canada, and Australia.

The Aquino administration had also allowed the entry of more than 400
energy projects, mostly owned by the Aboitiz group of companies.
Bolinget said many indigenous communities were also displaced by by the
National Greening Program, which only turned ancestral lands over to
private companies for industrial forests and agribusiness plantations.

Aynong Abnay, a Mangyan leader of Bagong Lakas ng Katutubo ng Timog
Katagalugan (Balatik) in Mindoro, was evidently tired as he spoke during
the program. He was hoarse, and his foot was bound, with a wound from a
skirmish with the police in yesterday’s protest.

“They say that we tribal peoples can’t understand the issues of
government, but we know that government wants to take over our lands,
displace us from our homes, and violate our rights,” said Abnay.

“This government is a liar, a berdugo (butcher), and we know it doesn’t
serve the people,” he said.

Let unity flow like blood

At the foot of Mendiola Bridge, indigenous leaders offered a black pig,
whose blood was poured on the ground, as a symbol of flowing unity of
the various Philippine indigenous tribes.

“This bridges two tribes to attain a common aim for peace,” explained
Jill Cariño, of CPA and second nominee of Sulong Katribu partylist.

“This was performed by the Kalinga and Tinggian tribes during Martial
Law, to unite against a common enemy, the US-Marcos Dictatorship, which
wanted to put up four giant dams on Chico river. Now, we use it as
Filipino people to unite against the US-Aquino regime and to defend our
ancestral lands and the environment,” Cariño said.

“Here in Manila, the Apec leaders meet, while we, the indigenous
peoples, are being shooed and driven away. We have the anlasiw to show
our strong unity as fighting people from the Northern and Central Luzon,
Southern Tagalog and Mindanao. We will continue to unite against the
US-Aquino regime,” she added.

The Igorots gave the Lumád leaders a kalasag and sang-ay (shield and
spear), which are weapons of defense, while the latter, in turn, also
gave a shield and an intricately-woven belt of beads, to symbolize their
common commitment to nurture nature.


The Martsa Amianan reported various harassment along the way as they
head to Manila. In Baguio City, a bomb threat at the Victory Station
terminal alarmed passengers, just as the delegates were boarding a bus.

Zoilo Baladad, secretary general of the Ilocos Human Rights Alliance
(IHRA) said a busload of Ilocos Region delegates were held up at Bio
village, Tagudin, Ilocos Sur at 8:01 p.m. last night, Nov. 17, at a
joint checkpoint by municipal police from Tagudin and Sta. Lucia towns
and the Ilocos Sur provincial police.

Baladad said the police failed to give any reason for the hold-up,
except that the vehicle “carried rally paraphernalia,” and it was “by
order of Col. Roman Felix.” A human rights worker, Mila Marcelo of IHRA,
tried to talk to the police men, but the latter instead took photos of
her. The Ilocos delegates were eventually allowed to pass after a series
of negotiations.

“The action of the PNP clearly indicates the repressive nature of state
forces: harassing and intimidating those who resist the anti-people
policies of the Aquino regime. It also portrays how the Aquino
government systematically uses its state forces to stop the people from
exposing the ills of Apec that furthers the oppression of peasants,
fisher folk and indigenous peoples, in favor of the interests of the
ruling elite and big businesses,” Baladad said.

The Martsa Amianan proceeded to protest at the headquarters of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City later
in the morning. (