ILOILO City – Members of the indigenous Tumandok (Panay-Bukidnon) tribe in Central Panay joined the Lakbayan 2016 of national minorities for self-determination and just peace with kampuhan being held at the University of the Philippines Diliman in Quezon City and programs at the National Capital Region starting October 12 until October 28.
The Lakbayan 2016 was joined by about 3,000 various indigenous and Moro peoples from different regions to drumbeat issues of militarization and plunder on their respective ancestral lands and territories.
In Panay, the Tumandoks are facing eviction from their ancestral lands because of development projects such as the Jalaur and Pan-ay mega dams, the national greening program and mining applications by foreign companies.
“This is a great chance for us to unite with our brothers and sisters to struggle for our rights. We can gather experiences and lessons on how to bring up our struggles and win eventually,” said Remia Castor, a tumandok from Calinog town whose farmlands will be submerged by the Jalaur mega dam.
The Jalaur mega dam of the National Irrigation Administration, primarily pushed by Senator Franklin Drilon, will affect 17,000 Tumandoks in 16 villages of Calinog. These villages will either be totally or partially submerged, endangering various flora and fauna species, the environment and the eventual loss of identity of the Tumandoks.
In Diliman, various minority groups aired their problems to the entire UP community that warmly welcomed them.
From militarization, eviction that resulted to bakwit, and killings, they all united to press President Rodrigo Duterte to end the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan which started under then President Noynoy Aquino. The national minorities also challenged the Duterte government to recognize and uphold their rights on their ancestral lands and self-determination.
The Lakbayan 2016, a product of last year’s Manilakbayan of Lumads from Mindanao, also gave birth to the alliance of national minorities Sandugo that resembled unity through blood compact.
For the Tumandoks, this Sandugo alliance will help in their campaign against more and more development aggression projects through various support from other minority groups.
In the Philippines, there are 153 ethnolinguistic groups composing the national minority. They are divided in major groups – Moros (13 groups), and Lumads (18 groups) in Mindanao; Cordillera peoples (7 groups), and Anggay, Kalinga and other groups in Northern Luzon; Aeta in Central Luzon; Dumagat, Mangyan and Palawan Hilltribes in Southern Luzon; and the Tumandoks and Ati of Panay in Visayas. (John Ian Alenciaga | panaytoday.net)