Stanford students join Lumad leaders in calls for accountability by Aquino govt.

PALO ALO, Calif. – Filipino-American college student Joriene Mercado may be thousands of miles away from the Philippines; however, he says that the recent fight of the Lumad people for environmental justice and human rights resonates with him.

Mercado along with many fellow students from Stanford University packed this classroom to hear from Lumad representatives who witnessed the deaths of their leaders and were part of the rice protest in Kidapawan that resulted in deaths and injuries of numerous community members.

“I think it’s even more powerful hearing the stories of the Lumad people as oppose to hearing about it on the news because it just makes these issues more personal,” said Mercado. “I was able to connect my life to theirs as I saw their families being torn apart and losing family members because of these massacres and it’s very hard to hear that that could have been my family in the Philippines.”

Lakbay Lumad USA is the title of the U.S. tour that not only shares the Lumad culture but also what they call are the struggles they face from big mining corporations that covet the abundant natural resources on their land.

The Lumad say that since President Aquino is the leader of the country and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines – he is ultimately responsible for the blood of the slain leaders and the displacement of their people.

They argue that to this day nothing is being done to help them.

Josephine Pagalan, a Lumad-Caraga representative, said, “We want the immediate arrest of the criminals who killed the Lumad leaders. Second, we want the paramilitary groups to be disarmed and disbanded. And third, we want the military out of our homes, communities, and schools.”

Kerlan Fanagel, chairperson of the Southern Mindanao region, adds, “They still protect the interest of big mining corporations and they instill the culture of impunity in the Philippines and in the indigenous people so that’s why we are here and we call not only for the support of logistics materials and the Save our Schools campaign but we are here most especially to have a solidarity.”

The Lumad leaders will be speaking in San Francisco this Friday at the API Cultural Center as part of the USAAF 2016: Civil Dis(place)ment Festival.

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  • Santiago Del Mundo
    14 June 2016 at 8:25 am - Reply

    According to Spear (2015), Lumad tribe is getting caught between the crossfires of communist insurgency and the AFP…Along with that, mining has claimed lives of the Lumad tribe…President Aquino would do some sweet talking but no results…This mining paid so much money into some pocket and nothing happens to solve the problem…Remember the “talking to the wall” theory?

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