DAVAO CITY — Thousands of farmers and indigenous people from the region put up a barricade outside the Army’s Eastern Mindanao Command here on Friday morning, March 18 to call for the pull out of the military from the communities and schools. The protesters also included small scale miners.
The barricade of around 2,000 protesters started at 9:00 am along the Davao-Agusan Highway in Panacan here with the heavy build-up of vehicles paralyzing the entrance and exit points in the area.
Kerlan Fanagel, chairperson of Pasaka Confederation of Lumads said they have had enough of the dialogues between several government agencies.
“They remain blind and deaf to the demands of the people,” Fanagel lamented.
Fanagel said they are also demanding the government to order the stop of harassment against farmers and indigenous people, disband and disarm paramilitary groups, ensure the safe return of the evacuees in Davao City, Bukidnon and Tandag City to their communities, rehabilitation of IP schools in the communities, arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of human rights violations, and the dropping of all trumped-up charges against their leaders and members.
In a dialogue with City Administrator Atty. Melchor Quitain, the protesters said they will not disperse from the area unless there is an assurance that the government will act on their demands.
Quitain negotiated with the protesters to give way to the traffic, but the protesters decided that they will not do so unless they will be heard.
“Hangtod nga wala pa mi makakuha og assurance sa pagtubag, o pagdungog sa Malacañang, mga national government offices, dili namo usa ihatag ang dalan (Unless we get an assurance that Malacañang will hear and act on our demands, we will not give way),” said Fanagel.
Quitain said they have already tried calling Regional Peace and Order Council Chairperson and presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte to help with the negotiations.
Duterte was reportedly on his flight to Manila for his campaign.
Fanagel said if they will be able to hear Duterte’s side and commitment they will “talk again” about giving way to the traffic. (With a report from Maria Patricia C. Borromeo/davaotoday.com)