MANILA – The Lumads from Mindanao who put up camps inside the Liwasang Bonifacio here vowed to stay even during holding of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit here on November 18-19, when authorities already warned them that their stay was only up to next week.
Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada already told tribal leaders and organizers of the Mindanao caravan that they could stay in Liwasang Bonicafio only until November 12 because of the holding of the APEC.
“The national government talked to me, I am just a mayor, not the President. I have no choice,” Estrada said
Datu Jomorito Guaynon, spokesperson of Manilakbayan 2015, said they would assert their “right to stay” in Liwasang Bonifacio beyond November 12.
Guaynon told DavaoToday that they will show to the national government that their intent is legitimate, “that the kampuhan of lumads from Mindanao will not be dispersed.”
The last APEC Summit gathering this year will be held in Manila on November 18-19. Since January, series of APEC gatherings have been held in different key cities in the country; Bacolod, Bataan, Boracay, Cebu, Clark, Iloilo, Laoag, Manila, Pampanga, and Tagaytay.
This year’s summit is themed, “Building inclusive economies, building a better world,” which will be participated with economic and political leaders from countries in Asia, and the US.
Guaynon said that the government “does not want the foreign leaders to see the realities, especially the plight of Lumads from Mindanao.”
He said that if the national government will force them to leave the camp out, “then we can say that the Aquino government does not want to talk or entertain our concerns.”
“If that will happen, we can say that [President Benigno] Aquino values more the foreign leaders compare to his own people. We can say that his bosses are not the Filipino people,” he added.
Guaynon said that if they will not be permitted to stay in Liwasang Bonifacio up to November 22, they will be forced to move back, “for the security of the delegates of Lumads.”
But the “protests against the national government and its agencies will continue to condemn what they have done to the lumads in Mindanao,” Guaynon said.
Estrada has offered another place for the Lumads to camp out if they will be dispersed.
“I want to grant you [to stay up to November 22], but I cannot decide. I am just a Mayor,” he reiterated.
For Guaynon, the APEC summit is a good “timing” for them to show through their protests not only to the government but also for the international leaders “with regards to the plundering the natural resources of our ancestral domains, through foreign corporations.” (davaotoday.com)