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Laity, gov’t authorities urged: Uphold rights of indigenous groups

MANILA, Nov. 28, 2014 — A Catholic episcopal commission has called on the lay faithful to uphold the rights of Indigenous People (IP), urging them to fight existing realities of physical, cultural, structural, and ecological violence that cause the “severe marginalization” of Filipino natives.

“With power of our collective strength and unity, we urgently call on all our fellow Filipinos, specially our esteemed government officials, church leaders, civil society organizations to respect and protect indigenous people’s rights and well being,” the group said in a statement signed by Tabuk Bishop Prudencio Andaya, Jr., Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Indigenous Peoples Apostolate (ECIP-IPA-IPs) Chairperson.

Indigenous Peoples participate in a celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Sunday in 2006. (Photo: CBCP News)

Constitutional provisions

According to the group, this can be achieved by “fully implementing the constitutional provisions, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) other Laws, Issuances and International Instruments that recognize and protect (the indigenous groups’) rights to the letter and spirit of these issuances.”

They highlighted the rights to ancestral domain, self-determination and self-governance, and cultural integrity as the primary means to achieve unity and equality among indigenous groups.

The ECIP-IPA-IP, composed of representatives from 37 dioceses in the country, had their national convention at the Covadonga Center for Culture and Spirituality in Cagayan de Oro City on Nov. 17 to 20 with the theme “Indigenous Peoples Lives: Blessed in the Midst of Challenges.”

Specific issues

The group specifically called for the “repeal of all administrative orders inconsistent with the provisions of the IPRA,” which “puts in jeopardy the Indigenous peoples rights over the ancestral domains, blatantly and unjustly deprives indigenous peoples of their lands without due process, [and] unduly delays delineation of and formal recognition of ancestral [domains].”

They also urged the fast tracking of the process for the formal recognition of ancestral territories; rectify the policies on the issue of Ancestral Domains Delineation and formal recognition; and put a stop to development aggression, putting up instead sustainable & culture sensitive development programs.

The ECIP-IPA-IP raised the need to repeal the administrative order on the certification of Indigenous Political Structures, noting that “this [is] being in utter contradiction with the rights of the indigenous people to Self-Governance and Self Determination.”

Among the other issues they also raised are the need for equal representation of IPs in legislative bodies of Local Government Units (LGU); observe and respect genuine, IP-controlled Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process; reform of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to a graft-free,

IP-controlled agency mandated to implement IPRA and to promote and protect IP Rights; uphold the IPRA as a social legislation and consequently, for all government agencies; and for local civil registrars to facilitate and open access for registration of birth and marriages of IPs.

They also stressed the importance of the indigenous people’s right to proper education, urging the need to support and promote the Indigenous Peoples Education (IPED) by integrating the IP educational systems within the Philippine educational system.

The group called on schools, universities, and colleges to take a pro-active role in the promotion of IP education from basic to tertiary levels in their respective school systems. (Jennifer M. Orillaza/CBCPNews)

1k+ youth to welcome Pope at Villamor Airbase

MANILA, Nov. 28, 2014— More than a thousand young Filipinos will greet Pope Francis upon his arrival in Manila.

Parañaque Bishop Jesse Mercado, chairman of the papal visit arrival and departure committee, said some 1,200 youths will greet him at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City “with vibrant music and dance.”

youth9“Two children will offer him flowers. They will be orphans who have come to know God as our Father through the love and care of selfless men and women,” Mercado said.

All the other details, he said, are still being finalized and will be made public in the coming days “so that you can share our excitement, because Pope Francis has brought us together: men and women of faith, men and women of government.”

Fr. Lito Jopson of the media and information committee said the youths will also perform a “Filipino dance” at the airport when the Pope arrives from Sri Lanka at dusk on Jan. 15.

“Despite the gathering darkness, we plan to brighten the night with the warmth of our love,” Mercado said.

Jocson said that among those expected to welcome the pontiff include President Benigno Aquino III, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, and Archbishop Socrates Villegas.

“It will just be a simple welcome ceremony,” he said.

Security concerns

The government assured that all necessary measures for the Pope’s security and that of the crowd will be put in place.

But Ambassador Marciano Paynor, the government’s chief protocol officer, said they will also need the cooperation of the public in ensuring that the papal visit “is one thing to remember.”

“If we’re able to get the cooperation of everyone, then everyone is a security person also. We wouldn’t want anything to happen to the Pope, that’s why we’re asking the people to help,” Paynor said.

He also said both the government and the church are calling for active lay participation in securing the papal visit “rather than just [being] onlookers.”

“The Church is encouraging everyone to contain themselves, contain their enthusiasm….No pushing, no shouting, just to be able to see His Holiness,” Paynor added.

Pope mobile

Organizers said the Argentine pontiff will be provided with a vehicle where he will to the public although there will be instances that he will use a closed vehicle.

Presidential Communications Undersecretary Jess Yu said the popemobile was being designed in coordination with Vatican security, but refused to give more details about it, citing security reasons. (CBCPNews)