Baranggay Aglinab, Tapaz, Capiz. They came by teams, in batches of 10s, and groups of 20s and 30s. The number grew to several hundreds until it surged to 1,500 as Indigenous Peoples (IPs) from Aklan, Boracay, Antique, Cebu, Guimaras, Negros Occidental, Iloilo and Capiz travelled by land and sea for the 1st Visayas-wide consultation on the Philippine Platform on Indigenous Peoples Rights (PPIPR).
Held from January 18-19, 2014, the event was jointly convened by two of the country’s biggest IP networks – the Koalisyon ng mga Katutubo at Samahan ng Pilipinas (KASAPI: National Coalition of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines) and the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP: National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines). It also drew the participation of delegates to the 9th Tumanduk General Assembly which was just concluded the day before.
The muddy terrain, rainy weather and the presence of the military were no deterrent as representatives from peasant groups, youth and the academe from UP Visayas also came. Delegates from Leyte and Samar however did not make it due to their community relief and rehabilitation work.
Earlier on January 14, five (5) six by six trucks carrying some fifty elements of the 61st IB along with an NCIP representative, namely Nida Katipunan, camped in full battle gear around the Aglinab gym for “medical mission and relief distribution and operations” as two helicopters hovered above. The area had also been hit by typhoon Yolanda that destroyed homes, crops and trees including blowing off half of the gym’s roof.
IP Situation and the PPIPR
KAMP National Coordinator Joana Jaime provided a general situationer of indigenous peoples and how they are coping up to natural and man-made disasters such as typhoon Yolanda and development aggression. She said resistance to destructive projects like large scale mining, logging, plantation, mega dams and militarization have resulted in the extra-judicial killing of IP leaders. To date, 40 IP leaders nationwide have been killed under the Aquino government.
Explaining the PPIPR activity, Joana said this is the first in a series of consultations under KASAPI-KAMP partnership aimed at bringing together membership-based indigenous peoples’ organisations (IPOs not NGOs) to know each other, given the isolation that has separated them for many centuries now. In addition, IPOs not affiliated with KAMP and KASAPI are allowed to join the platform’s activities, participate in consensus-building processes, making agreements and arriving at common positions. She said the platform is not being organised as an umbrella organisation, but a venue for IP exchange and sharing. She added that the platform respects the organisational integrity of each and every formation, network, or group that participates in the platform’s activities and that they are free to come and go, whenever they decide to do so.
The 2013 Indigenous Peoples Agenda
For its part, KASAPI secretary-general Giovanni Reyes said that since 2010 national and regional IPOs have consolidated an IP Agenda and had these updated yearly during the annual celebration of World Indigenous Peoples Day every month of August. Among others, the 2013 IP Agenda includes the following:
1. On ancestral lands, resources and development – to put a stop to land grabbing of indigenous peoples’ territories, and to stop large-scale mining and mega dams.
2. On human rights and militarization – to stop Oplan Bayanihan and de-militarize indigenous communities, dismantle para-military groups sowing fear amongst IP communities, stop the use of schools, barangay halls, barangay health centers, meeting centers of tribal councils as army camps; investigate the killing of 35 IP leaders and bring those accountable to justice and stop the tagging of IP leaders resisting plunder of natural resources as “terrorists”.
3. On the NCIP, IPRA implementation and Conflicting Laws – to respond to the institutional assessment of the NCIP which was done by the University of the Philippines-Baguio; total Revamp of NCIP and make officials found violating the law accountable after due process of law; junk/repeal the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and pass the people’s mining bill; Stop the implementation of the Joint DENR-DAR-NCIP-Register of Deeds Administrative Order. The Joint Administrative Order should not be allowed to undermine the rights of IPs to their lands, but should, instead fast-track processing of the IPs legal recognition to their ancestral lands.
4. On Delivery of Basic Social Services – Provide access to free health services and support indigenous health care systems; Ensure the conduct of a participatory review aligning the policies of various government agencies involving education and culture (e.g. DSWD, DepEd, CHED, TESDA, DOST, LCC, NCCA, NCIP) to ensure that education policies and programs for IPs are anchored on indigenous education systems and the right to self-determination.
To date, the Aquino government has not responded to any of the above. Instead, assaults against IP leaders resisting the plunder of natural resources within their ancestral domains continue as killings of IP leaders rise to forty (40).
Giovanni said that the 2013 IP Agenda coincides with key demands embodied in an international document approved by IP representatives and delegates around the world – the Alta Outcome Document. He said the document was approved with the Saami Parliament as host in Alta, Norway that was held preparatory to the high level special plenary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) to be held in September 2014. Among others, the Alta Outcome Document calls on UN member states to: 1) affirm protection of sacred places which IPs have inherent rights to; 2) demilitarization of lands, territories, waters and oceans of IPs; 3) discontinuance of “anti-terrorist” operations that violate rights of IPs; 4) establish Commission of Inquiry to document impunity and ensure that recommendations to governments to end impunity are effectively implemented; and, 5) that perpetrators of impunity be brought to justice and victims compensated.
A workshop followed where participants discussed latest issues and emerging concerns in their own communities. They also shared their views and responses regarding the KASAPI-KAMP partnership on the PPIPR. To address the language barrier, students from the University of the Philippines-Visayas and Iloilo volunteered as interpreters as well as documenting the workshop proceedings. In the plenary, workshop results were presented by reporters assigned by workshop groups. Common issues and experiences on disaster and land grabbing of ancestral lands highlighted the reports. On government relief goods, one group reported that rice distributed by the DSWD for disaster victims was unfit for human consumption. They said they used the rice to feed their chickens only to see their fowl animals die as a result..
Another group reported the threats posed by the South Korean-funded Jalaur Megadam Project. Three indigenous communities in possession of Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) issued by the Office of the President of the Philippines will be submerged. Moreover, the dam site is 11 kms away from the active West Panay fault that triggered a tremor of intensity 8.3 in 1948 destroying 55 churches, 17 of which are beyond repair. The project area itself has been declared by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as prone to rockslides due to the sedimentary nature of the land and therefore UNSAFE.
Given an average of 17-19 typhoons a year, the megadam is prone to overflowing. When the megadam overflows, it will flood one city and nine municipalities downstream.
About 17,000 indigenous peoples and thousands of people downstream of the river will be affected. As it is now, even without the megadam, water in the Jalaur river is insufficient in irrigating the vast rice and sugarcane lands downstream. If the megadam is constructred, it will aggravate this problem during the dry season.
The consultation ended with approval of several resolutions, speeches of solidarity interspersed with traditional Tumandok binanog dance and ambahan chants. The festive atmosphere and the political content of messages left no doubt about the determination of the Visayas indigenous peoples- the Tumandoks – to defend their Land and Life.
PHILIPPINE PLATFORM FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES RIGHTS
c/o Kalipunan ng Mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP)
Rm 304, NCCP Bldg.
879, EDSA, West Triangle, Quezon City
c/o Koalisyon ng Mga Katutubo at Samahan ng Pilipinas (KASAPI)
Unit 301, East-side Condominium
77, Malakas Street, Diliman Quezon City
Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
With Support from:
CCFD – Terre Solidaire
Comite Catholique contre la Faim et pour le Developpement
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