“Our legality has been questioned – and attacked – several times. Then let us formalize our representation of our indigenous brothers and sisters,” said Jomoring Goaynon, the first nominee of Sulong Katribu.
The partylist has filed its registration at the Commission on Elections on Thursday morning. Goaynon is a Higaonon leader from Bukidnon, and is respected in their community as Datu Imbanwag. But more than being a traditional head in his hometown, he has unfalteringly fought for the rights of the Lumad (collective term referring to the indigenous peoples of Mindanao) for more than a decade. He presently chairs the Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization in Northern Mindanao.
This has what earned him the ire of several local government officials, questioning his interventions in other Higaonon communities’ issues. They have accused him a member of the New People’s Army and have attempted to file Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) cases against him.
“Their perspective is very individualistic,” said Goaynon. “Yes we do have our ancestral domains – lands that have been contiguous before. What we have now are pockets of ancestral lands, partitioned over the course of history. But though our lands have been divided, we as a people experience the same oppression and marginali-zation. Even if I do not help another Higaonon community as a datu, I work with them as a fellow human who had experienced their difficulties and who understands the need to work together for the same goal.”
The third nominee of Sulong Katribu is a B’laan community leader from General Santos City – Karlan Fanagel, the chairperson of PASAKA, a confederation of Lumad organizations in Southern Minda-nao. Like Goaynon, Fanagel has worked on indigenous peoples’ rights and has campaigned for the cessation of military operations in their communities.
“What we really need is an IP voice in congress that really represents our sentiments,” Fanagel said.
Both Goaynon and Fanagel will be joining their fellow Lumad in the Manilakbayan 2016 estimated to arrive in Metro Manila on October 25. (PR)