Mindanao tribal people start 1,000-km protest walk

Demonstrators intend to camp outside economic summit

Joe Torres, Manila –
http://www.ucanews.com/news/mindanao-tribal-people-start-1-000-km-protest-walk/74488

23 October 2015

Hundreds of indigenous people from the southern Philippines have
launched a 1,000-kilometer walk to the national capital, Manila, to
dramatize their call against attacks on tribal communities in troubled
Mindanao.

The protest march, dubbed “Manilakbayan” or “journey to Manila,” is
expected to reach the capital on Oct. 26 and set up a “people’s camp”
during the duration of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in
Manila in November.

Jomorito Goaynon, a Higaonon tribal chieftain and spokesman for the
protesters, said the tribal people of Mindanao are “determined to show
to the international community what is happening in our communities.”

Vencer Crisostomo, of the youth group Anakbayan, said many students in
the capital will leave their classes on Oct. 26 to meet the
demonstrators and hold a weeklong sympathy protest.

“We are calling on the students and the Filipino people to open our
doors and our hearts to our [indigenous peoples] who travelled to Manila
and help them send their call for justice and peace,” said Crisostomo in
a statement.

On Oct. 23, faith and civil society groups held a rally outside the
offices of the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples, or NCIP, in
Manila to protest the agency’s alleged inaction on the killings of
tribal leaders in Mindanao.

“Today, we have a list of indigenous peoples killed because they were
defending their rights and promoting the interests of their
communities,” said Judy Pasimio, national coordinator of Lilak-Purple
Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights.

“Sadly, the list is getting longer. And so we ask, where is the NCIP in
all of this? Its silence is deafening,” said Pasimio.

Ed Garingan, campaigner of the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc.,
said the killings of tribal leaders and attacks on indigenous
communities were directly linked to mining.

“We have yet to hear strong protests from the side of the NCIP whenever
the military tries to encroach on tribal areas,” said Garingan.

Crisostomo said the killing of tribal leaders is part of the
government’s “dirty war” targeting activists, environmentalists and
leaders of minority groups, especially in Mindanao, to further the
interests of big foreign businesses.

Continued harassment

Crisostomo also condemned the reported harassment done by military
intelligence personnel at the University of the Philippines campus,
where the indigenous people are scheduled to set up camp on Oct. 26.

Six soldiers were caught inside the campus on Oct. 21 spying on youth
leaders.

Katribu, a national alliance of Philippine indigenous people, said at
least 70 tribal leaders, most of them lumad from Mindanao, have been
killed since June 2010.

The group also recorded 99 cases of harassment, 22 cases of arrests of
tribal leaders, nine incidents of bombing of communities and farmlands,
and 54 cases of forced evacuations in Mindanao tribal communities.

The issue has come under a renewed spotlight this year after the
September killings of two indigenous community leaders and the head of a
school. Activists have blamed a paramilitary group for the deaths.

———————-

IP leaders stage protest at NCIP

By Rhodina Villanueva, The Philippine Star –
http://www.philstar.com/metro/2015/10/24/1514084/ip-leaders-stage-protest-ncip

24 October 2015

MANILA, Philippines – Leaders of indigenous peoples and environment
advocates held a rally in front of the National Commission for
Indigenous Peoples building in Quezon City yesterday, accusing the NCIP
of continued inaction on killings of IPs around the country.

“The NCIP’s mandate is to protect and promote the interests and
well-being of the indigenous peoples. Today, we have a list of
indigenous peoples killed because they were defending their rights and
promoting the interests of their communities. Sadly, the list is getting
longer. And so we ask, where is the NCIP in all of this? Its silence is
deafening,” said Judy Pasimio, national coordinator of Lilak-Purple
Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights.

She said during the Aquino administration alone, about 30 people have
been killed for defending the IP’s ancestral domain.

“This list includes at least two women and four minors, a proof how
inhumane and wanton the state-sponsored violence against the IPs is,”
Pasimio said.

Ed Garingan, anti-mining campaigner of civil society network Philippine
Misereor Partnership Incorporated (PMPI), said the IP killings, even in
the past, are related to mining on IP land.

“The NCIP also has something to explain about this, as a number of free
prior informed consent (FPIC) processes of some mining projects are very
questionable,” he said.

Garingan said the NCIP should be alarmed by the continuing
militarization of ancestral domain areas in the countryside.

Jaybee Garganera of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) said what they are
demanding is “an NCIP that stands for the IPs against all odds.”

Lilak and ATM are members of the Tampakan Forum, a network of groups
supporting the struggle of the B’laan community and the campaign of the
Diocese of Marbel’s social action center against the mining project in
Tampakan, South Cotabato. The PMPI serves as the network’s secretariat.