DAVAO CITY – More than a hundred student leaders and campus journalists from the seven campuses of the University of the Philippines in the country visited the evacuation camp of indigenous peoples’ inside the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Haran compound here.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Raoul Danniel Manuel, national president of Kasama sa UP, an alliance of all student councils in the UP system, said they are in the city for the annual gathering of student councils.
He said they chose UCCP Haran as their venue for their activity to show solidarity to the Lumads in the campaign against “the continuing violence perpetrated by the military and their paramilitary cohorts against IPs in Mindanao.”
“This is an annual meeting of student leaders and part of our program is the basic masses integration,” said Manuel.
Manuel said both the UP students and the Lumads “are robbed of their rights”.
He said like the ancestral lands of the Lumads, the UP lands are also “used for private businesses”.
Manuel said UP’s lands are used for “commercialization projects”, while the lands of the IPs are targeted by mining companies.
Manuel was the first summa cum laude of UP Visayas and a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics.
Mary Joy Capistrano, national chairperson of UP Solidaridad, an alliance of student publications in UP said that while corporate media is not reporting on the Lumad issues, they will continue to write about the plight of the Lumads.
“Sa panahong isinasantabi ng naglalakihang midya ang mg isyu na nagaganap sa mga katutubong lumad, ngayon po ang mahigpit naming panawagan sa mga kapwa journalist na bigyan ng masmalawak na espasyo para sa mga arikulo, debuho at larawan ang mga ginagawang karahasan sa mga katutubo natin (At these times that big media outfits is not giving attention to the issues regarding e Lumads, we are calling on our fellow journalists to give space for our Lumads in stories and pictures),” said Capistrano.
Lala Grace Calle, a BS Fisheries student from UP Visayas and the Vice Chairperson of Kasama sa UP for Visayas said they are grateful for the warm welcome of the Lumads.
“They were very hospitable and industrious. We also saw their collective action to survive their every day challenges. It warms our heart to see them smile despite of what they are going through,” said Calle.
The visit of the students was capped by a traditional ritual called Panubad-tubad, which is offered to pray for the safety of the students.
More than 500 Lumads from Kapalong and Talaingod in Davao del Norte and Bukidnon province are still encamped in UCCP Haran. The Lumads said they refuse to return to their communities unless the military will pull out. (davaotoday.com)