NATIONAL MINORITIES meted the “guilty” verdict and decreed the “death” penalty against United States imperialism for its crimes against the Philippines and its marginalized peoples at a Peoples’ Tribunal at the Bonifacio Shrine in Manila last October 27.
In an open and public trial, indigenous people and Moros presented documented cases of injustices committed by the US government and its so-called local puppets to tribal leaders and elders, who acted as the symbolic tribunal’s jury.
Prosecuting national minority groups said the US government’s crimes included historical accounts of abuses and violence against indigenous people and Moros, such as the massacres at Bud Dajo and Bud Bagsak.
They said the police brutality they suffered in front of the US embassy last October 19 was just the latest in a long list of atrocities they directly and indirectly suffered at the hands of US’ interventionist actions in the country.
The tribunal ruled that the US government, corporations and military and their puppets are the ones who have made life difficult for the national minorities and must be punished accordingly.
The tribunal then conducted a traditional ritual called pamaas where they dabbed fresh chicken’s blood on the palms of those present to seal their verdict.
The event was part of the final day of the Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya 2016 that brought indigenous peoples and Moros from all over the Philippines to Metro Manila to share their stories and struggles for self-determination with the people of the city.
Return to the embassy
The groups proceeded to march to the US Embassy to present the tribunal’s verdict to the US government.
Near the embassy, however, they were met by hundreds of policemen and were forced to hold their program near Museong Pambata instead.
While no violence occurred this time around, the protesters were infuriated by the large amount of police blocking their way to the embassy, some of whom were fully armored.
“The police must protect the rights of Filipinos, not foreign interests,” Minda Dalinan of Kahugpungan sa Mga Lumad sa Habagatang Mindanao (KALUHAMIN) said.
“They shouldn’t be using their strength against other Filipinos,” Dalinan added.
Struggle to continue
The national minorities said they have no plans on stopping their fight for self-determination despite the conclusion of Lakbayan 2016.
“We will not stop, we will keep fighting. Not until the plunder of our lands stop ,” Dalinan said.
“The true solution to our struggle against the oppression we receive from imperialists is our right to self-determination. As long as the domination of the US in our country remains, that is not going to happen,” Jerome Succor Aba of Sandugo added.
“Self-determination will not come to us. It is not something we request or wait for. We must struggle to claim it for ourselves,” Aba said. # (Abril Layad B. Ayroso)