Youth welcomes ‘Lakbayan’ of national minorities, joins fight for self-determination, just peace

University of Santo Tomas (UST) students welcome Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya delegates from Cordillera region.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), together with various student and youth organizations, welcomed on August 31 the arrival of more than 3,000 delegates of the Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya 2017, a national caravan of national minorities from different parts of the country.

National minorities from various ethnolinguistic groups traveled to Manila in an unprecedented caravan to highlight their demand for right to self-determination. They also called for an end to the spate of killings and the intensified militarization of their communities which makes way for large-scale mining and agribusiness plantations in their ancestral domains.

The North contingent, composing of national minorities from Cordillera, Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon, was welcomed at Blumentritt, while the South contingent which includes national minorities from Southern Tagalog, Visayas, and Mindanao was welcomed at the Taft-Vito Cruz area. They were joined by students from different universities who walked out from their classes to welcome the Lakbayanis and join their march to Mendiola.

“Our national minorities are direct victims of systemic discrimination and fascism in the country. They continue to experience intimidation and harassment from state forces, and worse, they are killed for staunchly opposing government policies that give way to the desecration and plunder of their ancestral domain,” said Jose Mari Callueng, CEGP national president.

Callueng reiterated the Guild’s support in the fight of national minorities against the intensified attacks of the US-Duterte regime in their communities, especially with the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao and its declaration of all-out war against the people.

“Duterte and the United States is masking Martial Law in the face of war against terrorism to maximize US military presence and intervention in the country. This has already resulted to massive evacuation and loss of civilian lives. However, what’s worrisome is how it will also result to the forced entry of big infrastructure projects and businesses in Mindanao which will violate the rights of the national minorities to self-determination,” said Callueng.

Meanwhile, he also expressed the prospect of change shall the socio-economic reforms previously discussed in the terminated peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) materialize.

“The peace negotiations should immediately resume to address the systemic roots of armed conflict. The US-Duterte regime should listen to the demands of the Filipino people for a just peace,” said Callueng.

The CEGP also called for a broad support to the plight of national minorities. In addition, it condemned the escalating attacks of the fascist US-Duterte regime in the face of the three wars it launched, namely war against drugs, the all-out war against the revolutionary movement and Filipino people, and Martial Law.

“We call on the Filipino people, especially the youth and the students to be one with the fight of the national minorities and to mobilize and act collectively to uphold our democratic rights,” Callueng ended.

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