Philippines: In time of budget hearing, Kaigorotan reiterate call to abolish NCIP

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    In time of budget hearing, Kaigorotan reiterate call to abolish NCIP

    PRESS STATEMENT
    05 September 2017

    Today, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and Igorot delegates to the Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya para sa Sariling Pagpapasya at Makatarungang Hustisya 2017, will join other national minorities in a people’s action at the House of Representatives to call for the abolition of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) which has been instrumental in surrendering ancestral lands to capitalist mining, destructive energy projects and other private interests.

    The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) set up the NCIP. As time passed, the actual practice of the government through the NCIP unmasked the deceptive nature of the law and its utilization to advance corporate energy and mining interests, disenfranchise indigenous peoples of their ancestral lands, coopt and pit indigenous communities against each other. The State manipulated the FPIC provision to facilitate the entry of destructive projects within ancestral lands. The actual experiences of communities with implementation of the IPRA proved CPA’s reject position correct. We cite the following examples in the Cordillera:

    • Non-recognition of prior property rights of the Kankanaey in Mankayan, Benguet in favor of the ISMI’s MPSA application (1999)
    • Manipulation of the FPIC process in Bakun, Benguet in favor of the mining application of Royalco (2009), manipulation of FPIC process in Mankayan, Benguet on the expansion of Lepanto and its application to convert its MPSA application into FTAA (2013)
    • Issuance of certifications of pre conditions to several mining corporations from 1998 to 2000 without the FPIC of affected communities which resulted in the approval of 9 MPSAs, non-recognition of the rejection or opposition of indigenous communities to a project (i.e. 2009 Binongan indigenous peoples rejection of Olympus Pacifc Minerals application, 2013 Guinaang indigenous peoples rejection of Makilala Mining)
    • Manipulation of FPIC process for the entry of big energy projects such as Chevron in Guinaang, Kalinga and Hedcor in Sabangan, and Philcarbon in Sagada, Mountain Province Cause of boundary disputes and tribal conflicts due to CADCs and CADTs
    • Issuance of questionable CALTs and CADTs to bogus claimants as in the case of Baguio City
    • No protection/intervention/action to protect indigenous communities from militarization, bombings, extrajudicial killings, and human rights violations committed by State military and companies in protecting capitalist and destructive projects.

    Among the latest cases of the flawed FPIC process include the 390-megawatt Alimit hydropower project in Ifugao, the 120-megawatt Daklan geothermal project in Benguet, and other energy applications in Mountain Province, Abra and Benguet that are set to displace more indigenous communities. In mining, the Lepanto Mining Company has been granted a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) that covers 777 hectares in Mankayan; Nickel Asia-Cordillera Exploration Company Inc (CEXCI) has filed applications exploration and renewal of operations that would cover more than 60,000 hectares of ancestral lands in the six provinces of the Cordillera and the adjacent Ilocos Sur. The NCIP has also twisted indigenous socio-political structures to its benefit. In Mankayan, Benguet, the NCIP created a questionable Council of Elders to represent the people that railroaded the FPIC processes in converting Lepanto’s MPSA into a financial and technical agreement (FTA). In many cases, the NCIP has become the spokesperson and defender of mining and energy companies.

    The manipulation of the NCIP and corporations for obtaining FPIC has caused human rights violations and divisions in indigenous communities targeted by mining and energy corporations. Community consent for destructive projects is forcibly secured by the government and private corporations, rather than freely given by the people.

    More importantly, not once did the NCIP make a stand in defense of indigenous human rights defenders. Not once did it make a position on State militarization of indigenous communities. We condemn NCIP’s silence on the continuing extrajudicial killings of indigenous leaders and militarization of communities resulting in various human rights violations. NCIP must also be held accountable for these killings and human rights violations. State militarization accompanies the entry of capitalist mining and energy projects, as the Cordillera experience clearly shows. Such injustice and accumulated anger of communities who have been marginalized through the years fueled the call to Scrap IPRA and Abolish NCIP.

    Clearly, the NCIP served as a tool for further oppression of indigenous peoples across the country for the institutionalisation of ancestral land grabbing for capitalist mining and other destructive projects and outright violation of indigenous peoples right to self-determination. Enough experience and lessons have been drawn for the past 20 years, all leading to the conclusion that IPRA deserves to be scrapped and NCIP immediately abolished as indigenous peoples pursue demands and struggles for comprehensive rights. Our strategic and best option is to firmly and consistently reject IPRA as an inutile and deceptive law and sustain the call for the abolition of NCIP, while asserting self-determination and people’s empowerment at the grassroots level as an immediate alternative.

    Reference:

    Windel Bolinget, CPA Chairperson

    Source: Cordillera Peoples Alliance