By JOAHNA LEI E. CASILAO
The Lumad and their supporters gathered at the University on Monday to call for the end of martial law in Mindanao, which they said has resulted in deaths, school bombings, and harassment of teachers.
LOOK: The Lumad arrive at Plaza Mayor, marking the start of the second Lumad Bakwit School in UST happening from Sept. 10 to 17. pic.twitter.com/yYN0m4lFxL
— The Flame (@abtheflame) September 10, 2018
“Andito kami dahil gusto namin ipakita na ayaw na namin sa ganitong presidente, ayaw na namin sa ganitong sistema kung saan patuloy na nalalabag ang karapatang pantao ng mga Lumad, ng mga Moro sa Mindanao,” said Save Our Schools Network Spokesperson Rius Valle.
The forced closure and military occupation of 57 schools in Mindanao have displaced 2,000 students, Valle added.
He also decried the ongoing martial law in Mindanao declared May 23 last year, which the president is looking to extend for the third time following the recent bombings in Sultan Kudarat.
“[A]lam namin na magtatagumpay lamang ang laban ng buong Mindanao kung nagkakaisa ang buong Pilipinas. Alam namin na hindi magtatagumpay ang Mindanao kung Mindanao lang din ang sisigaw ng paglaya,” he said.
Catherine, a Lumad student, told the Flame that she got her strength to fight not only from family, friends, and supporters but also from their oppressors.
“Una, sa pamilya ko, sa mga kaklase ko, sa mga kamag-aral ko, sa mga sumusuporta sa amin, at higit sa lahat, ‘yung mga taong nanlulupig sa amin na winawasak—pilit na winawasak—’yung mga karapatan namin, ‘yung mga pangarap namin, pilit na pinapatay,” she said.
She challenged Thomasians to keep their minds open and to act on their word.
“Pwede tayong (students) tawagin na pag-asa tayo ng bayan, pero para kanino? Pero para saan? Magiging pag-asa ba tayo ng bayan kung wala tayong ginagawa para sa lipunan?”
Also present in the event was Australian missionary Patricia Fox, who urged Thomasians to spread the truth about the struggles of the Lumad.
“[One] of [the] problems is the truth is not coming out in regular media. We are not hearing these things… Give the information out to the public about what is really happening and that these are young people who deserve to have education,” Fox told the Flame.
Hosted by the UST Simbahayan Community Development Office, the Lumad Bakwit School will be held from Sept. 10 to 17 at the Central Seminary Gym. F