Lumads, Moros and peasants from different regions in Mindanao arrived in Mendiola today after traveling and walking for 14 days to demand the Noynoy Aquino administration to address the human rights situation in their communities. Their journey to Manila dubbed as ‘Manilakbayan ng Mindanao’ aims to raise the issue of militarization in peasant and indigenous communities in favor of mining and export plantation conglomerates which result in massive evacuations, killings and other human rights violations. The protesters from Mindanao called ‘Lakbayanis’ will troop to different national government agencies to challenge them to respond to their demands: immediate pull out of the military in their communities, stop the plunder of natural resources, respect to their self determination and justice for the victims of human rights violations in Mindanao.

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The Manilakbayan marched to the U.S. Embassy to call for the immediate pull out of U.S. soldiers in Mindanao.

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Manobo elders hold a ritual dance to protest U.S. troops presence in Mindanao

Lakbayanis encounter police barricaded preventing them from setting afoot near the U.S. Embassy

Lakbayanis encounter police barricaded preventing them from setting afoot near the U.S. Embassy

Lakbayanis are warmly greeted  by supporters from Metro Manila

Lakbayanis are warmly greeted by supporters from Metro Manila

Lakbayanis hold a ‘kodaw’, which have five knots, to deliver the message that they are giving President Noynoy Aquino 5 days to respond to their demands to immediately stop the militarization in Mindanao. The red ribbon signifies the blood-debt of the Aquino administration because of its bloody human rights violations record. A kodaw is a knotted rattan that Lumads use to communicate the number of days of their rendezvous and encounter.

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The Lakbayanis place the ‘kodaw’ on the razor wires to send their message to Malacanang.

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Among those who joined the Manilakbayan are Manobos from Compostela Valley.

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Lumad elders offered the blood of the pig and chicken to the spirits to ask for protection from harm and their enemies.

Lumads smear blood on the palm of protesters as part of their ritual to ask for protection from evil and enemies

Lumads smear blood on the palm of protesters as part of their ritual to ask for protection from evil and enemies

 Photos by Erika Cruz, Joolia Demigillo and Dexter Aserdano