Manila City – Manila Archbishop +Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle visits the Manilakbayan camp in Liwasang Bonifacio today, in support of over 700 Lumad who held a camp-out for the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao.
Arriving at six in the morning, unannounced, Manilakbayanis were very happy and appreciative as Tagle went to walk around the camp, and shook hands with Lumad leaders.
The Archbishop had a talk with Bai Bibyaon Ligkayan Bigkay, woman tribal chieftain of Pantaron Manobo. Bai Bibyaon expressed her gratitude for the support of the church leader of the Roman Catholic.
“With the intensified militarization in our communities, it’s as if the military and the government wants to eradicate us from the map. As one of the church leaders, we share with you the responsibility to call for the pull-out of military troops from our communities,” Bai Bibyaon said.
In a statement, Tagle called for the government to let peace exist, which meant to pull-out military forces in the communities of our Lumad brothers and sisters, and the disbanding and disarming of paramilitary groups.
The Archbishop also called for justice to prevail and that perpetrators of lumad killings must be prosecuted.
Just like Pope Francis’ statement on the minorities, Tagle recognized the church’s “shortcomings and faults” on what is happening to the indigenous people. Hence he called for everyone to sit down, discuss, and unite in finding a resolution to the problems faced by the Lumad in Mindanao.
Tagle stated that his statement was a product of a collective discussion with the bishops in Mindanao and that the Roman Catholic Church is one with the Lumad of Mindanao.
Manilakbayanis were happy for the support shown by the religious community.
“We were emboldened for his presence, that he would come and see our plight personally. It adds to our determination that we have the support of the church people here in Manila. We know that we are not alone in our call,” said Jomorito Guaynon, spokesperson of Manilakbayan 2015.
Matanem Monico Cayog, one of the Manilakbayan leaders tied a tubaw, a traditional head garment, to Archbishop Tagle, as a symbol of gratitude.
Tagle also called for logistical support for the thousands of lumad displaced and are now in evacuation centers in Mindanao, along with compassion and understanding.