Photo by Red Carao

Text by Agatha Gregorio

The University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman held a community day for Lakbayan 2017 to be one with the national minorities in their fight to end state-sponsored violence against their communities, Friday.

Along with the UP Diliman students and faculty, they also called for the end of Martial Law in Mindanao and the defense of their human rights in a welcome assembly held yesterday afternoon at the Palma Hall steps.

Over 3,000 national minorities traveled from various parts of the country to UP Diliman where they are to camp for three weeks as part of their collective movement against the taking of their ancestral lands, as well as the disacknowledgement of their human rights.

These include the Bangsamoro and minorities from the Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Central Visayas, Western Mindanao, Soccsksargen, Northern Mindanao, and Southern Mindanao.

“Ang mga UP students, kapag nagsalita, ang mga UP professors, kapag nagsalita, malaki ‘yung impact na nagagawa niya para mapakilos din ‘yung ibang estudyante, ibang mga paaralan,” said Almira Abril, chairperson of the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP) and main convenor of Task Force Lakbayan.

Mirroring one of the recent Lakbayan 2017 events, the Salubungan, the Community Day began with the meeting of the Lakbayanis coming from Sitio Sandugo and the Diliman students and faculty, as they marched towards each other in front of Palma Hall.

Various performances, such as a community dance led by the Cordillerans, were also done by the different ethnic groups to show unity in cultural diversity. These were joined by calls against state fascism and militarization.

“Tuloy tuloy ‘yung government neglect sa hanay ng mga katutubo, walang health. Kulang na kulang ‘yung service. Kulang ‘yung values na binibigay sa edukasyon.,” Julius Cesar Lagta, a member of the Dap-ayan ti Kultura iti Kordilyera alliance, said.

“‘Yung paglalakbay ay para makiisa nga sa pambansang lakbayan ng mga pambansang minorya para sa sariling pagpapasya at makatarungang kapayapaan,” he added.

“Save Our Schools”, a group advocating for the youth’s educational rights, was also present during the event, as they openly condemned Lumad killings, the implementation of Martial Law in Mindanao, and the bombing of Lumad schools.

Johndel Libora, an 18-year old ALCADEV student said, “Kami po ay nananawagan na itigil na po sana ang mga militarisasyon doon sa aming lugar at ibasura ang Order DepEd No. 221 na siyang dahilan ng paghinto ng aming pag-aaral, dahil mismo ‘yung mga militar na siyang kumakampo doon sa aming paaralan.”

DepEd Memorandum No. 221 series of 2013 allows the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to conduct military practices in primary and secondary schools provided they issue a written request beforehand.

UP sectoral leaders, and representatives from All UP Academic Employees Union , Alliance of Contractual Employees (ACE UP), Samahan ng mga Manininda sa UP Campus were among those called onstage to express their message for the Lakbayanis, in an effort to support their calls and advocacies as national minorities.

As the program then closed, the contingent marched to Katipunan avenue to meet with groups from Ateneo de Manila University and Miriam College who also support the national minorities’ call for the end of state fascism, accountability from the Duterte administration, and their right to self-determination.


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