SOME 250 members of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in Northern Mindanao who went on “Lakbayan,” a nationwide people's caravan, to Manila last August 23 has returned home, angry over the apparent snub by high government officials in the city.
A ritual of thanksgiving for safe voyage was held at the Press Freedom Monument at the Capitol grounds on Tuesday, September 23, before the lumads from different tribes went back to their respective communities in the region.
The month-long Lakbayan was undertaken to press the IP's rights to self-determination, call for a just and lasting peace, and to urge the government to lift martial law in Mindanao.
Datu Jomorito Goaynon, chairperson of the Lumad organization Kalumbay in Northern Mindanao, said they are disappointed because government agencies that were supposed to address and answer their concerns failed to face them for a dialogue.
Goaynon said they went to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Education and even the Malacañan Palace, but no one faced them.
"Dismayado ta kay walay taga gobyerno nga nag-atubang ug nakig-istorya sa ato para unta mapaabot atong mga issues sa illegal nga pagdakop ug pagtumo-tumo og kaso sa mga lumad, pag-atake sa mga lumad schools ug uban pa (We’re dismayed because no government official talked to us so we can raise our issues in arresting and filing of charges against the lumad, attacking lumad schools and others)," Goaynon said.
Goaynon said only the social welfare department listened to their concerns.
The tribal leader said those agencies that snubbed them when they needed them most are insincere to help them fight for their rights.
Goaynon said the lumad people have sacrificed for a month to press their cause, adding that some were afflicted with minor cough, fever and stomach aches.
He also said two lumads from the region were slightly injured during the picket rallies outside the United States embassy and DOJ.
"During sa picket rallies naay usa nga nasamdan ang ulo kay nabunalan sa batuta ug ang usa nasumbagan sa police sa gawas sa DOJ (During the picket rallies, one was slightly injured in the head after being slammed with a policeman’s club and the other was punched by a policeman outside DOJ)," Goaynon added.
However, they are thankful to people from the church and academe and other groups who consoled them and showed their support.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 27, 2017.