More than 70 peasants and national minorities from various parts of Mindanao arrived in Manila on December 3 as delegates to Manilakbayan. The activity seeks to rally support for their anti-militarization cause. They were warmly welcomed by KARAPATAN, Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP), nuns and other religious under the Ecuvoice group.
Manilakbayan is led by Pa- nalipdan-Mindanao and Kalumaran, an alliance of national minorities in Mindanao. It is seeking support for their struggle for justice and a stop to extrajudicial killings and forced evacuations in Mindanao due to continuing militarization and the plunder of their lands by large-scale mining.
Among the members of the delegation are relatives of the Capion family, victims of a massacre on October 18 in Tampa-kan, South Cotabato. The military and Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI)-Xstrata connived to kill the Capion family, based on the results of an investigation conducted on November 17 by the National Peace and Solidarity Mission which is led by the Justice for Capion Family, Justice for All Network.
According to those interviewed by the investigators, Dan Balandra, a former colonel and currently a security consultant for SMI visited the Capion family three times days before the massacre perpetrated by the 27th IB.
Also among the delegation are five widows of minority leaders killed for fighting for their rights to their ancestral lands being seized by mining and agribusiness corporations and for the construction of megadams.
Manilakbayan also aims to heighten public awareness for their “Save our Schools” campaign. Literacy schools for the people have been set up through the initiative of people like Fr. Pops Tentorio of PIME, who was killed by a paramilitary group under the AFP’s employ. Not content with bombing communities and perpetrating extrajudicial killings, the military has also been using schools as camps or putting up detachments within school premises.
Welcoming the Manilakbayan delegation forms part of the activities lined up for a mass action on December 10, the annual commemoration of International Human Rights Day.