Editorial: The IP month and Peasant Month


October is indigenous peoples (IP) month and also is peasant’s month. It was a Presidential Proclamation #1906 of 2009 that designated October as the national indigenous peoples month, and the Catholic and Protestant churches have also declared it the Tribal Filipino month. On the other hand, according to independent think tank Ibon, October too is marked by the Philippine peasant movement as Peasant Month. It is a fact that most indigenous peoples, like the majority of the Filipinos, are peasants or farmers which indicates that the country’s economy is mainly agricultural.

Have we ever asked why most of us remain poor farmers when farmers actually feed the whole nation? Have you watched the news coverage of a peasant protest march? Or the march and rally of Igorots and Lumad in full indigenous attire? Gongs and all? Have you read their banners or heard their chants?

Daga, Biag ken Kinabaknang!! (Land, Life and Resources!), Lupa, Karapatan, Justisya! (Land, rights and social justice!)

Filipino farmers, indigenous peoples (IPs) or national minorities (NMs) continue to struggle as Bulatlat describes, “to hold on to the lands they or their ancestors have cleared and made productive, opposing, in the process, various cases and schemes of alleged landgrabbing instigated by expansion of plantations, land-use conversions into projects not covered by agrarian reform, and intense mining.”

Last month, national minority groups from all over the country marched to Manila in the “Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya” to make their issues understood and heard by the national government, by other NMs and other Filipinos. They camped out in Diliman and in between marches, rallies and visits to government agencies, they gave cultural workshops, lessons on wood, water, local crafts, lessons on Philippine History from their point of view to all who cared to sit with them at their month long Kampuhan. They condemned martial law, mass displacements, the bombing of their villages and schools, militarization, loss of ancestral lands and domains, etc..

This Peasant Month shall also have the now traditional Lakbayan (march) led by the organizations and communities of peasants all over the country for the same purpose of taking their issues to the seat of government because no one really listens to them or sees them in the countyrside. This is the far more reaching and larger in number peoples’ mobilization that used to camp out at the Department of Agriculture office grounds. Initially they got a martial law land reform bill so that they built their ranks and they were allowed a yellow CARPer. They shall keep on pushing harder until they gain a Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (Garb) , among others.

In Baguio, there is the on going struggle among local indigenous peoples for their true representation in the City Council. The Igorots are being given a ride on a government merry-go-round just to keep their selected Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) away from already representing them in the August body. Government officers concerned have at several instances passed their responsiblities to other offices or disappear from their seats when they are being sought for by the igorots on this issue. The deprived national minority groups can always bring their presumptive mandatory solon to the parlaiment of the streets, and all together give those obstructions or obstructionists what they deserve along with a piece of their mind. (Like yesterday at the bibak?)

In these collective and mass mobilizations the NMs, peasants and the Baguio Igorots can gain better insights and solidarity ties that shall bring their goals as a people closer as a nation. # nordis.net


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