THE presence of the Lumads in the city is a clear indicator of the President’s performance when pertaining to their situation for the period covering the year after he took the reins of power.
They are still there, nothing is clearer than this, that there is little to say about any change with their precarious situation in their homeland.
No doubt, by now, (hopefully) it must be clear to President Digong who his enemies really are.
When he hears only the things that he likes to hear, like praises about his achievements during his tumultuous first year in office, somehow, it could leave him a bad taste in the mouth.
But when his true friends, those who have nothing but their dignity and self-identity, those whose opinions he really cared about, tells him that something has to be done, then, he listens.
That’s why when the Indigenous Peoples and the small farmers come to him to tell about their true situation in their communities which he could no longer visit unlike before, he persevere and endures their supplication. Some commuters looking out into the massing up of the IPs along Panacan road are wondering why they are there again, and this time, the Lumads endure the discomforts brought about by natural elements, especially the heat of the noonday sun and the downpour at night.
Why are they persevering?
They are there because they believe they can only deliver their message about their dire situation in the homeland through a concerted effort, in unity.
The so-called Fourth Estate has failed them over and over again, as what the established media are relaying to the public are half-truths or even lies about the true state of affairs in their communities.
The Lumads could no longer contain their fears for their children whose future are being threatened by the myopic view of military and government authorities in collusion with big corporations who are driving them out of their ancestral lands.
The President is aware of this reality, but we should understand that he is being surrounded by “advisers” or people whose views could be far different from those he has vowed to serve, and could be telling the president a different version of what the people wanted him to see.
That is why the Lumads would rather deliver their message directly to the President, sans the discomfort and the difficulties.
Their efforts are clearly wanting of a peaceful resolution to their problems, exhausting every means in their power in unity, in accordance to what President Digong would like to resolve things.
His campaign pronouncements over a year ago have emboldened the Lumads to tell him directly how they continue to live in uncertainty even under his leadership, contrary to what he had promised them.
The main reason is that the “dogs of war” are still there, the remnants of the brutish power of previous administrations are still very much in place.
They are the spoilers of the change that President Digong wanted to have in his administration.
The reality is he can never expect things to change for the better if these spoilers blind him from seeing the real situation on the ground. Thus, the IPs has proven once again that with concerted efforts, they can best make themselves clear and communicate with the President on their own terms, the way they would have done personally.
And so quietly, they relayed their message with their physical presence.
They are telling him that the paramilitary Alamara that was recruited by certain military personnel way back during previous administrations operating in the hinterlands continues to ensnare and destroy their hopes of finding education for their children.
The Lumads are asking the President to seriously look into their situation now because they still believe that he can make a difference, make their lives better.
The people have spoken and it is now up to the leader of the land to reciprocate.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on July 03, 2017.
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