By Kat Leuch

Kat Leuch is a law student and a Pilipinas volunteer that recently welcomed the arrival of the 1,500-kilometer protest caravan led by over 700 Lumad culminates with their arrival in Manila to resist the abuses they face, and demand their right to life, land, and justice from the administration of President Noynoy Aquino.

As a part of the movement, I get the opportunity to work with inspiring women activists who lead communities and risk lives of comfort to stand in the front lines of struggle. But as I continue to be involved, I remind myself that it takes a team to make a leader and that the accomplishments of these women that I admire are in part because of the people that they work with. It is because of this realization that I began not to put individuals into pedestals, but rather to focus on the work of the collective, of the organizations, of the people.

Yesterday, once again, I found myself in tears, beaming in great pride as I humbled myself before another woman – the 17-year old daughter of Dionel Campos, the Lumad leader who was slain by the para-militia right in front of his three children and the rest of the community of ALCADEV.

In her speech at Mendiola, in front of other Lumad who travelled from Mindanao and more than a thousand other people, Michelle Campos spoke with great strength, fearlessness, and with the determination only a person who has been deprived of justice could. She gave an account of what occurred in ALCADEV: the execution of her father and another Lumad, and how they found Sir Emerito Samarca on the ground, with his hands tied, stabbed, and his throat slit.

She said that in his father’s place are the children and the young Lumad who will continue in fighting for their rights. That their struggle will continue in defending their mineral-rich land from the grasps of the capitalist who refuse to respect their rights to self-determination.

The Lumad have been pushed far, and the government – with its military forces and the para-militia are even pushing them further. Even yesterday, while the Lumad were marching to UP DIliman, another school was closed down by the military. The government does not want the Lumad to have a voice in determining what should happen with their land. The Lumad are only fighting for their rights, and what the government wants to do is to erase them – kill them and kill their culture – all for profit and false economic growth.

I stand with the Lumad and I will not give any profound, academic, or legal explanation but for the basic reason that what is happening to them is WRONG. It is against morals, it is unconscionable, and it has to stop.
I stand with Michelle Campos, because her fight and the plight of the rest of the Lumad is also the fight and plight of the indigenous peoples of Palawan, of Bataan and Zambales, of Mindoro, of Samal Island, and the rest of the Philippines.

As a good friend of mine said in our parting text, “ibigay natin kay Michelle Campos ang araw na ito. Idol ko na siya.” Idol ko na si Michelle dahil alam kong determinado siya na isulong ang panawagan ng mga Lumad sa kahit saang arena .(“Let’s give this day to Michelle Campos, today is her day. I look up to her because I know she is determined to advance the rights of her people in whatever arena of struggle.)

Take action! Join the Twitter Storm  for @noynoyaquino to @StopLumadKillings.