Tuesday, September 27
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Go beyond social media in fighting for Lumads’ rights, Thomasians told

By MARY ADELINE A. DELA CRUZ

photo by MARIELLE FRANCHESCA L. SANTIAGO

STEP OUT of your comfort zones and learn to fight for the rights of your fellow Filipinos.

This was the challenge of human rights advocates to Thomasians in a peace forum held at the UST Central Seminary Gym on Monday.

Mark Lim, national spokesperson of the National Union of Students of the Philippines, stressed the need for the youth to join the fight against the “war on illegal drugs” and urged the government to lift the martial law in Mindanao which, he claimed, is negatively affecting the lives of Lumad groups.

Halimbawa sa UST, hindi naman na bago ang pagiging aktibo natin sa mga pambansang issue ‘di ba? […] Bukod sa pag-integrate, [maaari rin tayong makatulong sa pamamagitan ng] pagsama sa kanila (Lumads) doon sa struggle, na […] tayo collectively [ay nagdamayan],” he said.

Arts and Letters Student Council (ABSC) Vice President-External Jancisko Valera also urged his fellow students to go beyond social media in fighting for the rights of the Filipino people.

Gustong gusto natin ng pag-unlad sa Pilipinas ngunit hanggang social media lang tayo. […] Hinahamon ko ang bawat isa rito na makilahok at lumaban para sa ating mga kapwa Pilipino. Hindi lamang po sa mga Lumads, [kundi] sa ating mga kapwa Pilipino,” Valera said.

In 1997, the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) became a law promoting the rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) to ancestral domains that pre-date the Spanish era.

However, almost 20 years after IPRA’s passage, schools and other areas belonging to the ICCs still face destruction, bombing and arson, while some of their facilities are utilized for military purposes.

Nicolo Bongolan, Tanggulan Youth Network-UST convenor, calls for a “just and lasting peace,” adding that Lumad children have to be displaced when one school after another faces destruction.

“[Ang kabataang Lumads], tulad natin gusto lang nila ng karapatan sa kalidad na edukasyon […] All of us naman, nag-aaral tayo kasi gusto natin makatulong sa pamilya natin, sa community natin. So the mere fact na tini-take away [ang edukasyon] sa kanila, isang malaking struggle na ‘yun,” Bongolan said.

Ano nga ba ‘yung ‘just?’ Tunay na karapatan ang ipinaglalaban nila. Kasi simple lang naman ang hinihiling nila, ng mga pambansang minorya. Basically, lupa, sahod, trabaho, [at] edukasyon, karapatan kasi ‘yun yung nawawala sa kanila,” he added.

There are nine out of 10 Lumad children who have no access to education, 146 alternative schools and programs provided to Lumad children, 87 schools with reported cases of military attacks and 233 reported cases of children’s rights violations from 2010 to 2015, data from Save Our Schools Network revealed.

AB Debate Parliament Treasurer John Steven Usero emphasized the importance of amplifying the voices of the Lumads in solving the problems of the country.

Kailangan pakinggan ng bawat miyembro ng bansa ang pagkakaiba-iba ng opinyon […] Tayo ang [magsisilbing] representasyon ng mga [hindi napakikinggan sa lipunan]; tayo ang [magiging] boses. […] Hindi napapahalagahan ang pambansang minorya. Kasi lagi tayong nakasentro sa sarili natin,” Usero said.

The forum titled “Paglipay: Paglalakbay ng Kabataan Tungo sa Mundo ng Pambansang Minorya,” was organized by the UST Simbahayan Community Development Office, ABSC, UST Sociological Society, Philippine League of Sociology Students-UST Chapter, Tanggulan Youth Network- UST, and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in line with Lakbayan 2017. F

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