QUEZON CITY, Oct. 12 -- Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo said that the DSWD Central Office gives its full support to members of many Lumad and indigenous people’s communities from all over Mindanao and Luzon as they hold the 2016 Lakbayan.
Some 3,000 Lumad and 500 indigenous peoples of the Cordillera, Central Luzon, and Southern Luzon have journeyed by bus and ship to get to the National Capital Region (NCR) where they intend to conduct a series of cultural activities as well as fora and symposia to inform the public regarding their plight, and to seek the Duterte administration’s support for their struggle to recover their ancestral lands taken over by the military and mining operations of foreign and local companies.
The University of the Philippines (UP) will again be hosting the Lakbayanis as it did last year. They will all be staying in the UP grounds for the entire length of their stay in the NCR. The Kampuhan in UP Diliman will be from Oct. 12 to 28.
The Lakbayan delegates come from Lumad, Moro, Igorot, Aeta, Mangyan and Agta groups. They are on their way to Metro Manila to join this year’s Lakbayan, which will feature cultural events and learning workshops.
“We warmly welcome our brothers and sisters among the Lumad, especially the young folk and the elders. We fully support their struggle to recover their land and to resist the destructive effects of militarization in the countryside and the irresponsible operations of mining companies that encroach upon Lumad ancestral lands,” said Sec. Taguiwalo.
On October 20, the DSWD will hold a dialogue with the Lumad in their campsite in UP from9am to 12 noon. Sec. Taguiwalo said that the intention was to consult with the Lumad on what assistance the DSWD as well as other government agencies can provide them.
“We want to help the Lumad, but they will be the ones to tell us exactly what kind of assistance they want and need. At the onset, we are well aware that they want their children to receive some kind of formal education apart from the traditional education they receive in their own communities. We have already announced earlier that we are coordinating with the Department of Education (DOH) on building 251 schools for Lumad children in Mindanao,” she said.
For instance, earlier in August, DSWD-Caraga reported that it has begun to construct 198 classrooms in sitios (sub-village) and barangays (village) in highland communities in northeastern Mindanao.
The classroom projects are under the DSWD’s Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) Classroom Construction for Lumad.
Sec. Taguiwalo expressed hope that the DSWD and other government agencies will be able to give additional assistance to the Lumad after the dialogue. She said that Pres. Rodrigo Duterte himself has declared his full support for the Lumad and gave instructions to his cabinet secretaries to give what assistance they can to the Lumad so they can resume their normal lives and even improve them as they themselves see fit. (DSWD)