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The National Minorities in the Philippines

The national minorities in the Philippines are special sectors of society which face similar prob­lems as the rest of the Filipino people— feudal inequalities, corrupt and repressive governance, and foreign domination— but distinctly suffer from national oppression. National minorities are the economically, politically, and socially marginalized ethnolinguistic groups in the Philippines. They comprise roughly 15-20% of total Philippine population. They comprise 153 ethnolinguistic groups nationwide, as broken down into the main regional groupings: the Moro people (13 ethnolinguistic groups) and Lumad people (18 ethnolinguistic groups) of Mindanao; the Cordillera people (7 major ethnolinguistic groups) and the Aggay, Kalinga and various groupings of Northern Luzon; the Aeta of Central Luzon; Dumagat, Mangyan, and Palawan Hilltribes of Southern Luzon; and the Tumandok and Ati of the Panay region in the Visayas.Together with the Filipino people, they suffer from a pre-industrial and backward agrarian economy, abetted by the state’s subservience to foreign domination and control of resources. Adding to their burden as national minorities is the oppression brought about by the policies of the national government that seek to plunder resources within their ancestral domain and violate their right to self-determination as manifested in:

• non-recognition and disregard of national minorities’ right to ancestral domain and territories;

• plunder of natural resources within the ancestral domains and territories;

• political misrepresentation in the government;

• historical neglect and deprivation of social services;

• non-recognition of cultural identities;

• commercialization, vulgarization and misrepresentation of indigenous culture and identity;

• institutional discrimination and Christian and Malay chauvinism.

National Minorities: A Common Heritage and History of Struggle for Self-Determination and National Liberation

Historically, the Moro and indigenous peoples have fought Spanish and American colonialism
in defense of their land and territories. History is filled with the heroism of tribes who fought
against invaders. At one point, the Moros and Lumads in Mindanao have fought side by side; some even reached blood pacts as a means to collectively defend their communities.

US imperialism has historically been the cause of the national oppression of national minorities. From the ‘scorched earth’ policy against the Kalagan and other Lumad tribes in Mindanao to the Bud Dajo and Bud Bagsak massacres against the people of the Moro province in the early 1900s to human rights violations committed by US military troops today, national minorities take note of these historical wrongs and are calling for an end to this oppression.

However, in the formation of the Filipino nation, the Moro and indigenous peoples were minoritized economically, politically, and socio-culturally. Institutional discrimination brought about by the formation of a department that segregates the Christian from the non-Christian tribes started under the American colonial government and was continued under the succeeding puppet Philippine governments.

In response to the intensifying oppression by the national government — plunder of the resources within their ancestral domain, fascist attacks against their resistance to grabbing of their lands, political misrepresentation and non-recognition of indigenous socio-political institutions and process, institutional discrimination, and the commercialization and vulgarization of indigenous culture — the Moro and indigenous peoples have waged movements of people’s resistance, both armed and unarmed.

Today, the Philippine state through its armed instrumentalities such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines has unleashed the most vicious attacks on national minorities leading to the displacement of hundreds of thousands, illegal arrests and extrajudicial killings of activists, harassment of student and teachers of community schools, military encampment in and the eventual closure of these schools. The Philippine government’s recent counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which follows the United States’ Vietnam war-inspired Counter Insurgency Guide, seeks to legitimize landgrabbing and ethnocide and destroy the unity of indigenous peoples by subverting their beliefs and traditions. Oplan Bayanihan is an avowed ethnocentric and IP-centricinternal security program that is responsible for the killings of indigenous peoples nationwide.

On the other hand, the Moro people are further discriminated and their beliefs demonized in the government’s implementation of the US “war on terror.” Several Moro civilians paid the price for the crimes committed by international and local terrorists such as the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), and in which civil and political rights of the Moro people were disregarded.

More than 200 civilians were arrested and detained for more than 15 years on trumped-up charges while Moro communities served as hunting ground of US and Filipino soldiers for their military exercises in pursuit of terrorists.

Sandugo! Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-determination

The continuing and intensifying attack on the lives and rights of the Moro and indigenous peoples have propelled both peoples to unite and spark a movement to defend their land, identity, the right to self-determination, and in pursuit of national liberation. In the recent past, national minorities were galvanized in the movement to push for genuine regional autonomy in the crafting of the 1987 Constitution. They were further united in national movements and formations that commonly promote indigenous and Moro peoples’ rights particularly amid the backdrop of internal security policies (Oplan Bantay Laya), regional free trade agreements (APEC, ASEAN), and US interventionism and militarism (Balikatan exercises, EDCA/VFA).Under former President Benigno Aquino, the attacks on the Lumad people pushed national minorities to intensify peoples’ resistance through a protest caravan popularized as Manilakbayanng Mindanao. In 2015, a protest caravan of indigenous peoples from Cordillera, Northern and Central Luzon dubbed as Salubungan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan merged with the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao as part of the nationwide protest against the Asia Pacific EconomicCooperation summit in Manila.The formation of an alliance and movement of national minorities today takes off from the above resistance movements.

Objectives of SANDUGO!
• Strengthen and broaden the unity and struggle of the Moro and indigenous peoples
for the defense of their land, identity and right to self-determination;
• Highlight the rich culture and identity of national minorities as distinct peoples
with a common heritage, struggle, and aspirations for self-determination;
• Formulate, continually develop, and popularize the common agenda of the Moro
and indigenous peoples for the attainment of their rights to self-determination and meaningful change; utilize this agenda as basis to engage and measure the policies and programs of the Duterte government towards national minorities;
• Initiate and launch collective campaigns and actions and/or activities on issues
common to all minorities;
• Educate the Filipino people and popularize the concept of national minorities
and their struggle for self-determination and national liberation;
• Broaden the alliance and draw wide support for the agenda and mass movement
of national minorities;
• Forge solidarity with struggling national minorities in other countries

Bases of unity

The continuing attacks on the rights of the national minorities set the stage for the Moro and indigenous peoples to strengthen their unity to continue their historical resistance and struggle for the right to self-determination.The alliance should help in righting the historical injustices suffered by national minorities and stop the continuing attacks on their collective and human rights.The alliance should provide the venue for national minorities to forward their aspirations for the right to self-determination and for national liberation.

Nature and Structure
It shall be known as the alliance and movement of national minorities for self-determination and national liberation.

The alliance will be comprised of, but not limited to, the marginalized ethnolinguistic groups in the Philippines: representing the Moro, Lumad, Cordillera, Aggay, Kalinga, Aeta, Dumagat, Mangyan, Palaw’an, Tumandok, Ati, and other main groupings.

The alliance is a broad and loose formation which will be governed by a group of convenors from the different organized groups of Moro and indigenous peoples. The convenors shall choose from among themselves two spokespersons, one for the Moro and the other for indigenous peoples.

The alliance shall also include advocates of Moro and indigenous peoples’ rights who support and promote the rights and welfare of the national minorities from the academe, church people, lawyers and civil libertarians, human rights defenders, advocates for environmental protection, artists, and cultural workers. The alliance shall also welcome the participation and support of government officials who wish to express their solidarity with national minorities.

The alliance will also forge relations and solidarity with organizations of national minorities in other countries and with international organizations that forward the interest of national minorities.A secretariat will be formed and will be based in Metro Manila to ensure the nationwide operation and sustainability of the alliance. #

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