More than a thousand people converged in Davao City on Human Rights Day, to once again call for the pull-out of military troops in the countryside and end to the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan of the Aquino administration.
Lumad evacuees from Davao del Norte, Bukidnon, and Compostela Valley were joined by peasants and urban activists as they marched the thoroughfares of Davao, shouting “
Pakyason ang Oplan Bayanihan!” (“Defeat Oplan Bayanihan!”), “ Ihunong ang militarisasyon sa kabukiran!” (“End the militarization in the countryside!”), and “Yutang Kabilin! Depensahan! Ipaglaban!” (“Ancestral Lands! Defend! Fight for!”).
(Photos and caption by Laz Olalo, Karapatan-SMR).
Protesters begin to line up at Magsaysay Park at 9 AM
They march towards Freedom Park. The sight of over a thousand people in red draws the attention of people from the sides.
The group finally arrives at Freedom Park, the first protest site for the Human Rights Day.
Portraits of top human rights defenders are erected for all to identify.
Rciky Balilid, a teacher from the MISFI Academy in Kapalong, Davao del Norte, narrates how teachers in lumad alternative schools are red-tagged by the military as NPA educators.
Jinky Malibato, a student of the MISFI Academy in Kapalong, narrates the total lack of government support towards education in their area, and its attacks to their school.
Cultural performers sing “Oplan Bayanihan”, a song criticizing mainly the deceptive nature of the Aquino regime’s counterinsurgency program, and calls for peoples’ resistance.
Benito Bay-ao from Talaingod condemns DepEd for its decision against the opening of lumad schools this year, and calls for the scrapping of DepEd Memo 221.
Protesters marched again, this time towards Rizal Park, their second station for their protest.
Datu Juanito from Kitaotao, Bukidnon, recounts how he and 13 others were illegally arrested by elements of the 8th IB, who branded them as members of the NPA.
After a brief lunch, protesters boarded trucks and jeeps, then travelling to the Eastern Mindanao Command in Panacan.
Upon arrival, they line up, in preparation of their march towards the last protest station.
Lumad youth bring out their calls and indigenous bamboo instrument bangkakawan in front of Camp Felix Apolinario, headquarters of the Eastern Mindanao Command.
Hanimay Suazo (middle, in red), secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR: “Oplan Bayanihan has failed in SMR in the island of Mindanao, in the entire country, for the likes of us are still (protesting) here today.
A military agent was handed over by marshals of the event to the police. The agent was caught sneaking in taking pictures of the lumad. When accosted, he struggled to escape, leading to a commotion and his eventual capture by the marshals.
Isabello Tindasan, chairperson of the Compostela Farmers Association, narrated how he and several others experienced threats to their lives after they showed resistance to the operations of the Agusan Petroleum and Minerals Corporation in their area. Tindasan has survived two strafing incidents by military forces in the last six months.
Military men are jeered upon by the crowd of protesters as they passed by.
Rep. Karlos Zarate from Bayan Muna decried the proliferation of trumped-up charges against members of progressive groups, making a mockery of the justice system in the country.
Jimboy Mandaguit, head of KASILO, a lumad organization in San Fernando Bukidnon, condemned the absence of justice in the killing of Datu Jimmy Liguyon, whom the former succeeded after the latter was killed for his anti-mining stance. His killer was Alde “”Butsoy’ Salusad, a paramilitary leader known for his connections with the AFP.
Portraits of the top human rights violators under the Aquino regime are placed in front of the Eastern Mindanao Command.
In a symbolic form of resistance, Lumad spear with their banners the four, ripping the portraits to pieces.
A student steps on a scrap from the portrait to break it further.
A protester holds up high another scrap before beating it moments after.
Protesters continue to attack the symbols of impunity.
A last dip of their symbolic spear, before they made an organized departure from the Eastern Mindanao Command.