Indigenous and Moro protesters march back to the US embassy to declare their verdict: “Death to imperialism!”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Hundreds of indigenous peoples, Moro and sectoral groups marched back to the US Embassy today, Oct. 27, raising their fists higher and shouting slogans with more fervor. But none of the violence during the Oct. 19 dispersal was seen, as the hundreds of anti-riot police kept a good distance and their commanders stayed calm while they blockaded the width of Roxas Boulevard leading to the embassy gate.
The national minority alliance Sandugo spearheaded the protest, this time to deliver the “verdict” of a street tribunal which found the US government “guilty” of crimes against the Filipino people.
In spite of the violence inflicted by state forces on its ranks, Sandugo leaders claimed victory in the two-week campaign in the capitol, as they linked the national minorities’ struggle to right to self-determination as part of the struggle for independent foreign policy.
Today’s protest is the final leg of the Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya as the Mindanao contingent heads home tomorrow, Oct. 28. The Cordillera contingent left a week ago, on Oct. 22.
Tribal court finds US guilty of atrocities
The historic protest caravan closed with the national minorities’ very first street tribunal to try the US government for its oppression, from colonial times to the present. The tribunal, which was held at the Bonifacio Shrine in Manila, was led by three wali or judges: Bagobo Matanem Monico Cayog, Maranaw Sultan Macasalong Sarip, and Manobo Bibyaon Likayan Bigkay.
Various indigenous and Moro leaders presented cases of genocidal attacks by American forces:
• The massacres of Bud Dajo and Bud Bagsak, in which US soldiers killed thousands of Moro who resisted American laws;
• The 1906 “scorched earth policy” of Americans against Lumád in Davao Gulf, in retaliation for the killing of American official Edward Bolton by Lumád chief Mangulayon;
• The case of Central Luzon Aytas, who were deprived of their ancestral lands that were used for US military bases, and were subjected to various human rights abuses by American soldiers;
• The killings and other human rights violations in Mindanao, resulting from the presence of US troops under the Visiting Forces Agreement and Mutual Defense Treaty, particularly the presence of the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines (JSOTFP)
• The plunder of Lumád and Moro ancestral lands by American companies which exploited these for plantations, mining and logging.
“Death to US Imperialism!” came the judge’s verdict, announced by Bigkay. This was sealed in a ritual called pamaas, in which the blood of a sacrificial rooster is spread around, using a blood-dipped feather to smear the palm of the hand of protesters.
“Let us close our hands into a fist, raise our arms, and bring our verdict to the US embassy,” said Kerlan Fanagel, chairperson of Pasaka Confederation of Lumád Organization in Southern Mindanao.
Sandugo leaders vowed to continue to resist foreign domination, as they did through history against Spanish and American colonizers.
“We national minorities will not allow the submission of the Philippines to any other foreign power. We should lay down the foundations of an independent foreign policy with a pro-people economic policy of land reform and national industrialization at its core,” said Sandugo spokesperson Piya Macling Malayao in a statement.