More than 200 indigenous peoples and advocates from the Cordillera will join the historic caravan and alliance of national minorities in the Philippines from October 12-21, 2016. The national caravan dubbed as “Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya para sa Sariling Pagpapasya at Makatarungang Kapayapaan” (Journey of the National Minorities for Self-Determination and Just Peace), demonstrates the unity of the national minorities to assert their right to self-determination – the right to fully control their land and resources, implement their own form of self-governance, and practice their culture, traditions and religion.

From the plains, valleys, mountains and to the farthest villages of the Cordillera, each tribe and ethnolinguistic group will be represented to the national caravan and alliance of national minorities. The 200-strong Cordillera contingent will carry the main issues and put forward the struggle for the genuine regional autonomy and an end to the control and plunder of the natural resources and militarization of communities.

With expected 3,000 national minorities converging at the National Capital Region, different activities are slated. Among these are: the protest caravans of different regions to the National Capital Region; Kampuhan sa UP Diliman where each delegate will pitch camp at the University of the Philippines Diliman where a Salubungan will be held by the UP community and thereafter receive the delegates in a series of classroom discussions, cultural exchange, sports fests, and other activities.

UP Diliman will be a venue for immersions and visits from schools, churches, communities and organizations all over Metro Manila. Delegates will also conduct lobbying and dialogues with the relevant government agencies to seek redress for local issues and problems confronting national minorities, press for social services, and demand accountability for human rights violations. While the protests will also focus on pressing for an independent foreign policy in support of the Duterte government’s stand to uphold the national sovereignty.

Furthermore, various cultural performances and exchanges will be featured in the Kampuhan and in off-campus venues. This includes the Museo Lumad, Moro at Katutubo exhibition at the UP Diliman grounds, various benefit concerts and cultural events, cultural presentation of Moro and indigenous groups including children of the Save Our Schools network. National Minorities will also promote the National Minorities Peace Agenda to the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in a peace forum at the Kampuhan grounds.

And lastly, a formal alliance of national minorities all over the Philippines will hold an assembly and will be launched during a two-day conference. The alliance formation and conference will focus on an analysis of national oppression, the peace talks, and ways for national minorities to move forward and address issues and problems that confront them.***



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Windel Bolinget