November 27, 2015     Philippines
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August 12, 2013
Indigenous peoples press for ancestral land, other rights

The updated IP Agenda was divided into four themes: on IP lands, territories, resources and development aggression; on human rights, militarization and peace; NCIP, conflicting laws and FPIC; and on social services, Post-2015 Development goals, Climate Change adaptation and Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Preparedness and Response Measures.

Northern Dispatch

MANILA — About 80 tribe leaders from different communities in the country gathered to commemorate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in a forum held in Quezon City.

The National Forum on Indigenous Peoples and the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples discussed the situation of indigenous peoples in the Philippines and updated the indigenous peoples (IP) Agenda that was forged and submitted three years ago to President Benigno Aquino III.

Windel Bolinget, chairman of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), said President Aquino snubbed the first IP Agenda that was submitted to him a few months after he took office. Bolinget added that since 2010, “Aquino had never listened to the plight of IPs, nor did he respect their rights to their own lands, nor their right to self-determination.”

The Igorot leader said the updated IP Agenda will speak of old and current concerns and issues of IPs that the government must give attention to and address. He said the IP Agenda expresses IP rights to their lands and territories, genuine free, prior and informed consent, basic social services and rights as individuals.

IP issues

The lands, territories and resources of IPs have been greatly affected by development aggression.

In 2012, of the approved mining permits of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), 60 percent of the more than a million hectares of land opened for mining are within the ancestral domains of indigenous communities. Concurrent with these mining operations are various ventures of agrofuel plantations that cover more than a million hectares in different parts of the country. Large dams, logging and new forms of land grabbing such as the use of priority and usufruct rights to privatize and commercialize indigenous lands, implementation of renewable energy projects, without genuine free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) are evident in indigenous communities.

Jill Cariño, convenor of Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (TFIP), explained that development aggression destroys the holistic connection of IPs to land and slowly affect their traditional and sustainable living practices, culture and environment. “We call for a stop to development aggression in our lands and territories as it kills every aspect of our life given by our ancestors that is treasured for the next generations. Our customary laws and governance on our lands and resource use and our inherent right to free, prior and informed consent must be recognized and respected by the government, institutions and companies,” Cariño said.

While the Aquino administration remained silent on these issues, Piya Macliing Malayao, spokeswoman of Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Kamp) said the administration is very blatant in opening doors for more foreign investments that cater to large and destructive projects in the country that also brought violations to IP rights and customary laws .

Kamp believes that the economic policy of mining liberalization, other “developmental” projects and its brutal counter-insurgency scheme OplanBayanihan have grossly violated IP rights and have led to killings of indigenous peoples.

“Since Aquino came to power in 2010, human rights violations have been intensifying in the country and most cases are found in indigenous communities who are protecting their lands and territories and opposing development aggression,” Malayao said.

Based on the monitoring of Kamp, 35 indigenous peoples were slain under the Aquino regime, including minors. There were also 260 trumped-up charges filed against indigenous peoples. More than 4,000 indigenous peoples in Mindanao were affected by 14 incidents of forced evacuations.

Aside from these violations, red baiting is also growing and creating fear among IPs in indigenous communities, according to Beverly Longid, president of Katribu Partylist. She said many indigenous institutions are falsely labelled as institutions established by the New People’s Army (NPA).

Aside from harassments and killings, military encampments are found in indigenous institutions such as schools, barangay halls, health centers, indigenous meeting places and sacred sites. These created fear and terror among IP communities especially the children.

“These are clear attacks on IP rights. The military should not push the IPs into the GPH-NDFP [Government of the Philippines-National Democratic Front of the Philippines] clash. Red tagging in the schools established by the IPs themselves and with support from the church and non-government organizations should be stopped. Because of the lack of government services, these institutions were established,” Longid said

On the other hand, the dole out solutions of the government to alleviate poverty such as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) does not change the living conditions of the IPs. In fact, Longid said government policies on health, disaster preparedness and other education programs also become a problem for IPs. “Because of poverty and limited access to basic social services, IPs still rely on their traditional knowledge and practices of healing, self-defense and other survival mechanisms,” she added.

Calls and challenges

The updated IP Agenda was divided into four themes: on IP lands, territories, resources and development aggression; on human rights, militarization and peace; NCIP, conflicting laws and FPIC; and on social services, Post-2015 Development goals, Climate Change adaptation and Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Preparedness and Response Measures.

The indigenous peoples called on the Philippine government, the multilateral bodies in the Philippines including UN bodies, agencies and funds; the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, the European Union and among others to recognize and respect IP rights to their lands and right to self-determination. They also called on the Philippine government and the said multilateral bodies to honor and respect their commitments to different local and international treaties and agreements through policies and mechanisms that protect and promote IP rights.

The indigenous peoples’ assembly at the National Forum also expressed their full support to the Alta Outcome Document agreed upon by 700 indigenous representatives from all over the world in Alta, Norway last June. Reposted by (

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