Statement of indigenous peoples in the Philippines presented to the representatives of UN bodies and government agencies during the celebration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2016, August 9-11, 2016.
We, 75 indigenous men and women from 29 indigenous peoples’ groups from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao have gathered at the University of the Philippines, Quezon City from August 9-11, 2016 to celebrate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
We are indigenous peoples with collective rights to our lands, territories and resources as enshrined in the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Our intrinsic relationship to our lands, territories and resources has shaped our identities, culture, spirituality and informed our worldview that is integrated and holistic.
We reiterate that culture is integral to economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
We assert that sustainable development is underpinned by recognition, protection and fulfillment of indigenous peoples’ rights and self-determined development.
Unabated extrajudicial killings, displacements of indigenous peoples, threats to indigenous leaders and other atrocities perpetrated by government and paramilitary forces, rebels and other armed groups remain unresolved.
We, indigenous peoples are victims of war and of peace as we are unwilling hosts to armed conflicts that are not ours and yet, we have never been part of the peace negotiations. This is aggravated by the non-recognition and non-respect of our traditional conflict resolution processes and systems.
According to the UNSRRIP, all of these conflicts “are directly linked to counter-insurgency operations and the encroachment of mining companies, agri-business corporations, and illegal small scale mining and logging done mainly by paramilitary groups”.
We are the stewards of the remaining biological and cultural diversity, sustained by our indigenous knowledge and customary governance systems on resource use and management. Despite the IPRA, our right to our lands, territories and resources are not fully recognized or respected. The CADT process is tedious, expensive, complicated and problematic and does not guarantee security. Our customary ownership systems are being undermined.
We remain deprived of the most basic social services due to historical discrimination and marginalization.
Based on the current situation of our IP communities, our priorities and proposed strategies with necessary support, are presented below based on thematic areas, as follows:
1. Peace and Justice
We demand for our full and effective participation in the peace negotiation between the Philippine government and revolutionary groups:
- Government recognition of an indigenous peoples’-created peace panel to be independent with equal negotiating power.
- To have three (3) indigenous representatives, including one indigenous woman in the Bangsamoro Transition Commission
- To have two (2) indigenous representatives to the GPH-MILF Peace Process Implementing Team
We call for the withdrawal of all armed groups from our communities and fully support the call for an immediate and binding ceasefire between the government and revolutionary groups. Our communities should be recognized as peace zones.
Facilitate secure return of internally-displaced indigenous persons to their communities and provide necessary support services to them.
We call for a stop to extrajudicial killings and impunity of violence and criminality, including gender-based violence. We demand justice and indemnification to all victims.
Our children should not be used and recruited by any armed groups.
We support the establishment of an indigenous peoples’ observatory and indigenous peoples’ land inquiry by the Commission on Human Rights.
Our customary justice systems should be recognized and strengthened.
We demand the demilitarization of our communities and removal of all military detachments therein. We reiterate the recognition and respect to our inherent right to the land currently under the use of Camp Omar and Camp Badre which is part the Teduray ancestral domain.
2. Poverty and Hunger
Recognize our collective ownership of our ancestral domains.
Review pending applications and facilitate the issuance of all legitimate CADT applications.
We call for support to:
- Recognition and strengthening of traditional livelihoods and the role of women as knowledge holders
- Capacity building on organic farming, crop diversification, project management and marketing
- Setting up of community-based seed banks and nurseries specially to protect and sustain indigenous species
- Provision of appropriate agricultural technologies, capital and technical assistance
- Strengthening indigenous farmer’s organizations, cooperatives and enterprises
- Provision of crop insurance and emergency measures and action plans and budget should be included in LGU plans
Stop entry and expansion of large-scale agribusiness in indigenous peoples’ lands.
Stop promotion and use of genetically-modified organisms and inorganic inputs.
Sensitization in addressing appropriate solutions to local needs in the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer.
Address malnutrition and sanitation issues in indigenous peoples’ communities.
3. Provision of Basic Services
Establish public pre-schools to high schools in indigenous communities with sufficient facilities and indigenous teachers.
Ensure effective implementation of IPED:
- Strengthen participation of IP elders in the IPED
- Designate indigenous teachers as IPED coordinators
Support community-initiated IP schools and stop branding them as rebel supporters.
Stop the use of indigenous schools by all armed groups and fully implement Republic Act 7610 (Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act)
Review all existing curriculum and textbooks to correct discriminatory content and misrepresentation of indigenous peoples.
Ensure education of IP children in the basic curriculum in mother tongue.
Eliminate palakasan system in granting scholarships and hiring of teachers.
Provide scholarship grants to deserving indigenous students and review requirements for easier access.
Legislate the Magna Carta for Indigenous Teachers:
- Guidelines to consider indigenous teachers who have served for at least five years will be exempted from the Licensure Examination for Teachers.
- Ensure tenurial security of LET passer IP teachers who volunteered for at least two years.
Health, Nutrition and Sanitation
Establish health and birthing clinics in the community with health personnel who would stay in the clinic all the time and not on a per schedule basis.
DOH to provide necessary skills training and instruments to traditional birth attendants.
Recognize and accredit indigenous midwives as eligible skilled birth attendants.
Review the Strategy Manual of Operations 2011 on Maternal Neonatal and Child Health and Nutritionand repeal local no-home-birthing ordinances.
Provide support for building potable water systems to indigenous communities and support services for their maintenance.
Recognition and strengthen the role of traditional healers and the revitalization and protection against bio-piracy of traditional medicines.
4. Economic growth and productive employment/ infrastructure and innovations
Recognition and strengthening of traditional occupations and innovations, including harnessing non-timber forest products as additional source of income.
Construction of farm-to-market roads, free irrigation systems, other agricultural facilities and other support services.
Establish water harvesting and flood control systems in indigenous communities.
Support for small-scale, community- managed renewable energy sources and projects.
Provide alternative and appropriate source of livelihood and related capacity building activities for indigenous peoples.
5. Environmental goals
We support the efforts of the government to stop mining operations which have adverse social and environmental impacts and its call for audits of mining companies, including logging and agribusiness.
Declare no-go zone for large-scale mining in the ancestral domains of indigenous peoples.
Recognition, strengthening and support of traditional territorial management and protection systems (e.g community-appointed indigenous forest guards), and community protocols.
Cancel all projects (e.g IFMA, mining, dams) which did not undergo genuine Free Prior and Informed Consent process and ensure FPIC in all future projects.
Define modalities for Payment for Ecosystems Services (PES) and Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) with the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples.
Recognition of indigenous peoples’ right to water and sustainable water management system.
Recognize and support indigenous peoples’ community based monitoring and information system (CBMIS).
Recognize and support indigenous peoples’ climate change adaptation and mitigation actions and disaster risk reduction and management measures.
Provide legal, technical and financial assistance to address biodiversity and ecosystem concerns and climate change impacts.
6. Gender equality
Full implementation of the Republic Act 9262 (Anti-VAWC) and the Magna Carta of Women.
Recognize and support customary law and practices promoting the rights of indigenous women and children.
Ensure representation of indigenous women in local decision-making bodies (e.g. local development council) and other processes.
Full implementation of the GAD policy, capacitate women to access and ensure equitable allocation of GAD funds for indigenous women.
Provide capacity-building activities for indigenous children on their rights.
Provide sustainable support for indigenous women’s livelihood initiatives.
Develop measures to comprehensively address the Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in its 64thSession to the Philippine’s combined 7th and 8th report and allocate resources for its full and effective implementation. These should be done at least in consultation with and in partnership with indigenous women and their communities.
7. Means of implementation: support needed in terms of finance, technology and innovations, and capacity building
Full and effective implementation of IPRA.
Revamp the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and respond to and implement the recommendations of the institutional assessment of the NCIP done by UP Baguio in 2011.
Review the CALT/ CADT process and evaluate implementation of the 2012 FPIC guidelines.
Establish NCIP service centers (specifically in the ARMM areas).
Provide direct access of indigenous peoples to funds (e.g National Greening Program, People’s Survival Fund, Disaster Risk Reduction Fund, other funds).
Ensure full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in the budgeting and finance monitoring processes.
Ensure full implementation of the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) selection guidelines and revoke appointments through manipulation of the selection process.
Support the efforts towards ratification of ILO 169 in the Philippines.
Call for the government to invite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for an official mission in the Philippines in 2017.
The respect, protection and realization of our rights is the key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. For us indigenous peoples, there is no development without genuine peace and justice!
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Indigenous peoples call for end to killings, respect for rights
Celebrating the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
Quezon City, Philippines, 08 August 2016 — “We are victims of war and victims of peace,” claims a lumad leader from Mindanao, southern Philippines as indigenous peoples gather to celebrate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
This is echoed by Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
In a statement released today, the Special Rapporteur called “for a full review of mining projects and agribusiness expansion in indigenous peoples’ territories to be done by impartial and independent actors to assess how such operations have violated the rights of indigenous peoples which are enshrined in the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
Bandara also points out that indigenous peoples are caught in the middle in the clashes between government and paramilitary forces on one hand, and rebel groups on the other.
The non-recognition and respect of traditional conflict resolution processes by both the military and rebel forces aggravate the situation and often results to killings, he added.
Bandara reiterated that indigenous peoples’ rights are indispensable and should be recognized in the ongoing peace process in Mindanao.
“This way, indigenous peoples are in peace again,” Bandara concluded.
According to Tauli-Corpuz, “the extrajudicial killings of the lumad (indigenous peoples) in Mindanao which took place under the previous governments are still happening now according to the latest two allegations I received.”
She further expressed that the extra judicial killings of lumad and other indigenous peoples have not been resolved yet as no one has been brought to justice.
“If the government wants to address the long history of injustice committed to indigenous peoples, it has to be more decisive in pinning down perpetrators regardless of who they are,” Tauli-Corpuz added in a recent interview, referring to President Duterte’s inauguration pronouncement.
The most recent case happened in July 12, 2016 in Sumilao, Bukidnon where security guards of cattle ranch RAMCAR Inc. killed Remar Mayantao, Senon Nacaytuna, Rogen Suminao and wounded a 15-year old female. Likewise, the murder of Emerito Samarca, a pioneer of indigenous alternative education system in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, and two other indigenous leaders is still not resolved.
The Special Repporteur also notes that indigenous peoples need their land to be productive and are secured from illegal logging, mining, plantations and other forms of land grabbing for a true social and economic development to happen.
Alicia Agabas could not agree more.
“We are mapping our ancestral land to protect it from proposed mining claims. Through community mapping, we saw that if the mining pushes through, it will destroy our ricefields, our forestlands, our livelihoods and ultimately, us.”
Agabas is a member of the Guinaang people of Pasil, Kalinga northern Philippines who started mapping their territory in September 2015 and has since re-affirmed their territorial boundary with neighboring indigenous groups.
The Makilala Mining Company has filed an application for exploration permit in 2010 but has been opposed by the Indigenous Farmers Association of Guina-ang, Pasil (IFAGPI).
Agabas added that large-scale mining will not only ravage their flora and fauna, but will also destroy the culture, the people and the mere survival of the “tribo.”
As such, she is asking the government to help them stop large-scale mining in her community and for agricultural assistance for them to further help themselves.
“Through mapping, we were able to validate that our territory is very rich in natural resources. While a certificate or title is good, what we need now is irrigation for our fields and protection from the mining company,” said Agabas.
In the celebration of the world’s indigenous peoples’ day, the clamor of indigenous peoples is for true inclusive development for indigenous peoples to happen.
NOTE: The Philippine celebration of the “International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples: Ensuring that indigenous peoples’ rights are fulfilled in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change,” 9-11 August at the University Hotel, UP Diliman, Quezon City is organized by Tebtebba and Ugnayang Pambansa para sa Katutubong Kaalaman at Talino (UPAKAT).
Indigenous communities deploy high-tech mapmaking to staunch global land grab
With governments, loggers, miners and palm oil producers poaching their lands with impunity, indigenous leaders from 17 countries gathered on a remote island in Sumatra this week to launch a global fight for their rights that will take advantage of powerful mapping tools combined with indigenous knowledge to mark traditional boundaries.
“It’s amazing to see indigenous groups from all over the world coming here armed with hundreds of detailed maps they have created with things like handheld GPS devices and Internet mapping apps,” said Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, head of the Philippines-based Tebtebba, one of the co-organizers of the Global Conference on Community Participatory Mapping on Indigenous Peoples’ Territories, which took place on the edge of the largest volcanic lake in the world. “It’s a new and vivid way to illustrate how they and their ancestors have inhabited and worked these lands for thousands of years and have every right to assert their ownership.”
Indigenous groups from countries including Malaysia, Nepal, Panama, Mexico and Brazil, explained how they have adopted affordable, high-tech mapping technology to retrace the history of their land ownership and catalog their natural resources. Their hope is that detailed maps can help them fight the destruction of vast tracks of forests, peatlands and waterways—brazen incursions by government and industry that not only deprive indigenous peoples of their lands but also greatly accelerate the global loss of biodiversity and accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
For example, participants at the conference believe maps of this sort could help bolster the fight in Indonesia to stop the steady loss of traditional lands to palm oil production, logging and other industrial needs. Participants issued a declaration calling on the government of Indonesia to pass legislation, currently under consideration by the nation’s Parliament, which would provide new protections for the country’s 50 million indigenous peoples.
A recent report stated that the Indonesian government’s continued practice of granting national and international companies permission to convert millions of hectares of forests to palm oil and other plantations on lands that overlap with or abut indigenous territories often leads to the displacement of indigenous peoples—and a rash of sometimes-violent land disputes. The report on the state of large-scale agribusiness expansion in Southeast Asia by the Forest Peoples Programme, also noted that the country faced more than 280 land conflicts across the country in 2012.
“Lines on a map have always been a source of conflict, but they are becoming more and more contentious around the world today,” said Tauli-Corpuz. “In many cases, government and military maps don’t acknowledge the presence of indigenous territories, leaving these communities vulnerable to land rights violations and conflicts, as well as the loss of their sustainable livelihoods, the onset of poverty, environmental degradation, and the loss of cultural heritage. Indigenous peoples are creating maps to protect their customary lands.”
Sleek computer-generated Indonesian maps presented at the conference documented cases in which the government had handed over indigenous territories to developers. In the case of the Lusan community in Borneo, three different government agencies had handed a community’s land over to three different companies—a logging group, a mining operation and a palm oil plantation.
“Without maps, it is difficult for indigenous peoples to prove that they have occupied their ancestral lands for centuries,” said Giacomo Rambaldi, a senior program coordinator at the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), who has helped indigenous peoples to develop maps for more than 15 years. “If you are able to document and map your use of the resources since time immemorial, you have a chance of asserting your rights over land and water.”
It Takes a Village
Unlike satellite images or traditional political maps, the maps presented at the conference document key cultural and social sites, such as burial grounds, caches of medicinal plants, hunting trails or groves of specific species of trees. Based on pre-existing maps, satellite images or coordinates generated by hand-held GPS devices, these computer-generated documents or models record knowledge passed down through generations and integrate input from the entire community—including women and youth.
Conference participants heard that indigenous communities have successfully used these maps to protect their lands from land grabs and to monitor the impact of external forces on their lands.
- In Brazil, South America’s largest democracy, an Afro-Brazilian community used a map to stop Cyclone-4, a space company jointly owned by Brazil and Ukraine, from expanding into their lands to build rocket launchers. These maps refuted claims by the company that only 10 communities would be impacted by the development by showing that more than 100 communities would be displaced. Cyclone-4’s expansion was blocked—though the government continues its efforts to build the rocket launchers on indigenous territories.
- In Panama, which loses one percent of its tropical forests each year, members of the Guna community created a map—in the Guna language—to determine if the expansion of croplands had damaged sacred sites located in the rainforests surrounding their community. The map also served to show younger generations where these sites are located.
- In Indonesia, the village of Pandumaan produced hand-drawn maps to scale, based on GPS data, to show that a pulp and paper company encroaching on their lands had razed the forests they rely on for myrrh—a fragrant resin that they sell for a living and use in spiritual rituals.
- In Malaysia, which, along with Indonesia, is a leader in palm oil production, communities have used maps to win 25 of the 250 land disputes brought in front of the courts since 2001. The government continues to appeal the 25 cases that it lost in an attempt to regain the lands from indigenous peoples.
40 Million Hectares by 2020
Indonesia’s 2,200 indigenous communities, spread out across the country’s 18,307 islands, are the most prolific indigenous map-makers, the conference revealed. These mapping efforts have added urgency, since the country’s Constitutional Court decided in May that a line in the country’s 1999 Forestry Law, which states that customary forests are state forests, is not constitutional. To take advantage of this decision, which would first have to be implemented in national and local law, experts from the conference said it’s crucial for indigenous peoples to put these forests on paper.
AMAN’s Abdon Nababan said that he hopes to help map all 40 million hectares of land by 2020, and he called on the national Parliament to speed up the adoption of the Law on the Recognition and Protection of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The body is currently reviewing a draft of the law.
“Without Indigenous Peoples, There Would Be No Forests”
“Mapping not only empowers indigenous communities with evidence that they can use to assert their land rights, it also provides communities with the ability to catalog the natural resources sheltered in their territories,” said Tauli-Corpuz, the head of Tebtebba. “These maps successfully demonstrate what we already know: that indigenous peoples are the best custodians of their forests and lands.”
A study by The International Union for Conservation of Nature finds that biodiversity thrives in indigenous territories where communities are free to engage in hunting and other sustainable uses of natural resources—as opposed to state-held protected areas that ban such activities.
The National Coalition of Indigenous Peoples (KASAPI) in the Philippines arrived at the same conclusion. The project, which inventoried the resources in indigenous communities across the country, concluded from evidence gathered on the ground and from village elders—who recalled which species of plants have disappeared since their youth—that forests and lands owned and managed by indigenous peoples have stronger biodiversity than those that are under government control.
According to conference participants, maps that document a territory’s biodiversity provide indigenous communities and national governments alike with “baseline” knowledge about the health of their natural resources, enabling them to monitor changes to natural resources, such as the restoration—or degradation—of forests over time. Participants added that maps like these can show the impacts of climate change—and aid in the tracking of global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Vu Thi Hien of the Centre of Research and Development in Upland Areas (CERDA), taught members of the Thai Nguyen community in Vietnam how to map in order to support an international climate change effort to reduce climate change through the protection and preservations of forests, known as REDD+. She said that local authorities were so impressed with the professionalism and accuracy of the maps that they adopted the maps for their own use.
“If the community is not empowered to assert their rights, they can only go so far, even with strong laws supporting land rights,” Tauli-Corpuz said.
It was the first time leaders from Catholic, Protestant Jewish, Buddhist and other faiths joined indigenous leaders from Brazil, Peru, Indonesia, Colombia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to call for urgent action to protect the forests.
Inspired by Pope Francis’ outspoken stance on global warming and overdevelopment in his 2015 “Laudato Si'” encyclical, the groundbreaking event was held in Oslo and backed by Norway’s King Harald V.
“Without the forests we do not have life; we live thanks to the forests,” Monsignor Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, who heads the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, told the conference.
“If we continue to do deforestation, it is like suicide. We need to act together to defend our common house.”
The conference was told the size of tropical rainforests in South America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia is falling rapidly due to palm oil, soy and crop production, and extensive mining and logging operations with annual losses equal to an area the size of Austria.
Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, an indigenous leader for the Kankana-ey Igorot people in the Philippines, is U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.
She said that forest communities had put their lives on the line to care for the planet’s tropical forests and the conference was the first step towards critical collaboration.
“Many of these dominant religions have been linked to the colonization of our communities,” she told RNS. “It is important that they come together to support the indigenous people who are the main guardians of the forest.”
Tauli-Corpuz, who led community opposition to logging expansion under the late Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, said deforestation and mining had taken their toll on her community of 1 million people in northern Luzon and others in the Philippines.
“We are nothing without our forests,” she said. “Our culture, our spirituality, our livelihoods, our incomes and our health are tied to them.”
Tauli-Corpuz said she hoped the Oslo talks would lead to more cooperation with indigenous people and stop the violation of their rights. “These are concrete things that can happen,” she said.
Din Syamsuddin is a professor of Islamic thought who also heads a center for promoting dialogue between civilizations in Jakarta, Indonesia. He said respecting nature was included in the teachings of the Quran and it was time to educate a new generation about saving the forests.
“Conserving rainforests is timely; sustainability is the responsibility of all, before it is too late,” he told the Oslo conference. “Why don’t we start now?”
Rabbi David Rosen, international director of interreligious affairs at the American Jewish Committee, said the world is “a divine creation” and that he also believes there is a moral responsibility to protect it for future generations.
The Oslo conference was organized by Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, Rainforest Foundation Norway and the U.N. Development Program, in cooperation with the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale University, the World Council of Churches and others.
Participants hope to follow up with an action plan and a global interfaith rainforest summit in 2018.
“Tropical rainforests occupy a sacred place in many faiths, religions and spiritual traditions,” said Mary Evelyn Tucker, co-director of Yale’s Forum on Religion and Ecology.
“Given what we are hearing from religious and indigenous leaders worldwide, we believe we can create a global movement around this shared vision.”