The month of October has, for almost three decades now, become the time for the traditional organized peasant groups’ long march or Lakbayan from the provinces to the national capital to ventilate their issues against the anti-peasant/farmer policies and programs of government. Most government administrations, especially in the martial law period, unashamedly responded to this civilian, peoples’ mobilizations with punitive and often very violent military actions to suppress the peoples’ voice. All they were asking for include: genuine land reform, government subsidy for sustainable agriculture, livelihood, sustainable protection of the environment.
As in the first round of Oslo Talks, this round started auspiciously with both panels expressing optimism. However, one thorny issue dampened that optimism, the delays in the releases of remaining political prisoners.
Let us not forget the bankcruptcy of our farmers when cheap imported agricultural products flooded our markets. It is a clear consequence of entering into the World Trade Organization and further reinforced by the Philippines’ entry to Agricultural Free Trade Agreement (AFTA). We reel in pain over the inaccessibility and high costs of health care, education, electricity, water, oil products as a result of deregulation and privatization policies. Land and resources of indigenous peoples were indicated for corporate projects of mining, energy and plantations.
Ngayong linggo, pinayagan ng isang federal court ang muling pagtatayo ng 1,172 milyang Dakota Access PipeLine (DAPL) para sa crude oil. Ang DAPL ng Texas Energy Transfer Partners ay magdadala ng crude oil mula North Dakota papuntang Illinois sa Estados Unidos. Ngunit tinutulan ito ng mga Standing Rock Sioux, mga katutubo na nagmamay-ari sa reserbasyon na dadaanan ng oil pipeline.
Mahigpit na nakikiisa ang mamamayan ng Cagayan Valley sa inilulunsad na Lakbayan 2016 ng mga magsasaka at katutubo sa buong bansa. Isa itong patunay na hindi magkakahiwalay ang mga usapin at problema ng lahat ng magsasaka, katutubo, kabataan at iba pang aping sektor at uri sa lipunang Pilipino.
Just recently churches all over the world celebrated the Fellowship of the Least Coin. Sometime in 1956, the United Presbyterian Church Women in the United States sponsored four women in Asia to visit the East Asian countries. One of them was an Indian woman named Shanti Solomon. She was denied entry into Korea because India and Korea at that time had no diplomatic relations. Shanti had to stay in the Philippines while her companions visited Korea.
In the past months, we have seen President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s administration take unprecedented actions that will help realize what he has outlined in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), in terms of policies and programs beneficial to the people. We have also seen him declare pronouncements that, when translated into action, will positively affect the masa.
On October 13, more than 3,000 national minorities that include indigenous peoples and Moro from Luzon, Vizayas and Mindanao gathered at Morayta in Manila City and marched to Mendiola as part of their national caravan for self-determination and just peace.
National minorities from the Cordillera visited Makati and picketed the offices of Lepanto, Oceana Gold, Chevron and SN Aboitiz.