By RANDY FELIX P. MALAYAO
Rukuas! (Rise!) This is Cagayan Valley’s rallying call in this year’s Lakbayan of national minorities that shall converge in the national capital at the onset of September to highlight the situation, issues and struggles of national minorities throughout the country. Rise is also a national battlecry.
There is an ongoing relentless brutal and fierce attacks by the US-Duterte regime’s military and paramilitary troops on national minorities. Moro, Lumad and indigenous people communities are now heavily militarized. Natives are displaced. Extrajudicial killings are unabated. Plunder of natural resources are without let-up.
Industrial plantations and mining concessions of foreign and large corporations continue to plunder, grab or destroy the indigenous people’s territories and ancestral lands. All these in the name of neoliberal economic policies that aim to attract foreign investors in the country.
US intervention, state fascism
In the aftermath of the Marawi siege, Martial Law has been imposed not only in Mindanao but, de facto, in various parts of the country as well, through US-Duterte regime’s All Out War (“level the hills”) Policy, counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan and ‘war on terror.’
The US-Duterte regime’s bombings and massacre in Marawi manifest the state’s harshness in destroying the lives and struggles of the Moro people.
The US State Department has declared that ISIS is in the Philippines and threatens to attack the ISIS in other parts of Mindanao. Isis terrorism has now been conveniently used to justify state fascism not only in Mindanao but throughout the country.
US intervention is now increasingly manifested in internal conflicts in the country. It is not only mere presence of American troops in Marawi’s battle but rather, they are directing Marawi war, a blatant violation of our national sovereignty.
Aside from the deepening exploitation and oppression caused by imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism, the national oppression of the national minorities has further worsened.
The state, in addition to reactionary social institutions, has instigated Islamophobia and fanned discrimination to strengthen the conflict between the national minorities and the entire Filipino people.
The spread and rise of other Moro armed groups continues because the roots of their basic problems and rebellion have yet to be resolved. There is no certainty that this can be resolved in the framework of federalism and BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) promised by the US-Duterte regime.
The Duterte regime has stopped the peace talks between Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) along with its extension of martial law in Mindanao. Peace talks could be an option to resolve the roots of the armed rebellion of the people. National minorities have to add their voices to the ongoing peace talks to further their demands for a just peace.
It is important to launch the Lakbayan 2017 to raise the awareness of the public on the state of the national minorities, to expose the fascist attacks and plunder of their communities, tribes and communities, and to gather support for justice to those who have been victims of exploitation and violence.
In 2015, the Moros, Lumad and other national minorities marched to Manila to expose the military and paramilitary killings under the counter-insurgency program of the previous US-Aquino regime.
The Lakbayan 2016 took place in the first year of the Duterte regime. The Moro people and the Filipino people have come together and highlighted the demand for the right to self-determination and just peace. They have promoted peace talks between the NDFP and the GRP and supported the NDFP’s Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms and the Comprehensive Agreement on Poitical and Constitutional Reforms. Although the Lakbayan 2016 also supported Duterte’s call for independent foreign policy, ironically, it led to a violent dispersal of the rally at the US Embassy.
It is also an important event in Lakbayan 2016 the historic development of Sandugo, the first and the national alliance of national minorities throughout the country.
On September 1-21 it is expected that a larger delegation of the Moro people and other national minorities will march from various parts of the country to demand an end to imperialist plunder of ancestral lands and natural resources, genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization andan end to state fascism.
As the Northerners would say, Rukuas! Biag, Daga, ken Kinabaknang, Salakniban! (Rise! Defend Life, Land and Natural Resources!) # nordis.net