Land rights for indigenous peoples will remain to be a rallying call for Indigenous Peoples (IPs) organizations and communities in 2018. The enjoyment of land rights is inherent for IPs from the day they were born and their tribes and communities were formed.
This will be a challenge as the Duterte administration is pushing for constitutional change wherein provisions for the recognition of the right to ancestral lands and protection of the country’s economic sovereignty and patrimony are in danger of being taken out. This will favor multinational and transnational corporations who have large interests in extracting natural resources from our lands. The President’s latest pronouncement that he will decide who will invest in indigenous peoples’ territories shows the government’s intentions and its true directions in the use of ancestral lands.
The Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (TFIP) and its partner organizations and communities are concerned about recent events and government flagship projects that could spell disaster for indigenous communities. The government’s plans to pursue the Kaliwa dam project, Chico river pump irrigation project, Balog-balog dam and Jalaur Multipurpose dam will cause displacement and numerous other problems for indigenous communities in Rizal, Quezon, Kalinga, Tarlac and Ilo-ilo. These dam projects were not completed under the past administrations. At present, they will be funded through overseas development assistance from China (for Kaliwa and Chico projects) and Korea (for the Jalaur project).
The violence in Lake Sebu in December 2017 where some members of the Dulangan Manobo and Tboli tribes were killed as they asserted their claim to a land dubiously acquired by the DMCI provided a picture of blatant grabbing of ancestral lands and the impunity in carrying this out. Collusion of private corporations with local government officials and state security forces is also being employed in mining projects such as what happened in the southern part of Palawan. The rights of indigenous groups and communities to free, prior, and informed consent are either weakened or ignored. With these, indigenous peoples are further marginalized and stripped off their rights.
This alarming situation requires that we capacitate indigenous peoples and communities to document, monitor and defend human rights and indigenous peoples’ collective rights. It is also imperative to broaden networks and inter-tribal cooperation to support collective lobbying and solidarity activities in the defense of land rights. We must make our voices resound in the country and outside to demand for justice for the victims of human rights and indigenous peoples’ collective rights violations. #
Jill Cariño, TFIP Executive Director and Convenor: 0918-924-5966
Tyrone Beyer, TFIP Policy Advocacy Officer: 0905-328-3866