TAMBAYAYONG: Pakiglambigit sa mga Lumad
Photo by Jessa Marie Pedrola
As a part of “Lakbayan ng Lumad sa Cebu”, a delegation of the native Lumads were welcomed in USC-TC last Dec. 7, 2015 to share their experiences and spread awareness of the injustives against their people. The event was called ‘Tambayayong’, the Bisaya word for collaboration.
The Lumads were greeted by students at the university portal, with the former bringing banners representing different organizations that have been with them in their journey. These organizations include Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), Inc., Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur Schools (TRIFPSS), Inc., and PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations. The Lumads also brought with them posters that called for justice. The welcome was followed by a solidarity walk to the Bunzel lobby, where the program was held. There were a number of speakers, all of whom spoke out about what is happening to the Lumad community.
Thousands of Lumads have been displaced and are being forced to flee from their own lands as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and paramilitary, allegedly stationed there to secure coal mining operations, continue to violate various human rights against the Lumads. Thousands of Lumads are being forced to evacuate due to militarization. 53 combat battalions are now stationed in the land, with an estimated number of 46,000-50,000 troops, with the Southern Mindanao Region having the highest concentration of battalions at 35.
The Lumads call for justice as they continue to see their fellows being maltreated and killed. 2 Lumad leaders and a Lumad school director were killed by the paramilitary, allegedly accompanied by the AFP, last Sept. 1, 2015. Families were forced to go outside of their homes as they were being gathered in the basketball court. ALCADEV Executive Director Emerito “Emok” Samarca was found hogtied with a stab wound in one of the schoolrooms, while around the same time, Dionel “Onel” Campos, chairperson of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU), a Lumad organization protesting against mining operations, land conversions and plantations, and his cousin Datu Bello Sinzo were peppered with bullets in front of the whole village, with the military accusing them of being part of the NPA.
Rommel Samia, 15, and the only survivor of the Pangantucan massacre, also recounted his experience: the AFP had encountered the NPA near their homes, “massacred” them and accused the Lumads as a part of the NPA. He remembered seeing them shoot his blind father, with him repeatedly saying that they have done nothing wrong. His sibling and cousin were also killed in the massacre. Samia issued a statement saying, “Wala ko ka iskwela. Dili ko kabalo mo basa. Dili ko kabalo mo sulat, pero ang akong huna-huna kabalo mo respeto sa mga katawhan.” [I was not able to go to school. I do not know how to read. I do not know how to write, but my mind knows how to respect the people.]
More Lumad leaders spoke about the experiences of the Lumad people, about how many are being killed and being abused because they refuse to give up their lands to big mining companies and plantation companies. The Lumads’ demands are to pull out military groups in their ancestral lands, convict those involved in the Lianga and Pangantucan massacres, and disarm the paramilitary in their lands. The schooling of the Lumad children is also being disturbed, since their schools are being shut down — some are burned — because they are accused of being NPA operated. The Lumad leaders want to return home as soon as possible, but they cannot do this if the military and paramilitary are still occupying their lands.
After the Lumads shared their experiences, accompanied by two presentations from the Lumad children, some people were called on to deliver solidarity messages to assure the Lumads that they were not alone.
Tambayayong ended with a boodle fight with the Lumads at the Bunzel canteen. Other events of “Lakbayan ng Lumad sa Cebu” include the Cultural Night at the Brgy. Parian stage and the Humanitarian Mission at the Lumad evacuation center.