CDO City, Nov. 25 2014—Representing 37 Philippine dioceses, participants of the 30th ECIP-IPA-IPs National Convention held in Cagayan de Oro City from Nov. 17 to 20 as part of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s service apostolate among indigenous peoples (IPs), issued a statement on the theme “Indigenous Peoples Lives: Blessed in the Midst of Challenges”, reaffirming IPs’ rights.
In the document, the representatives raise concerns on the existing realities and challenges facing IPs that keep them severely marginalized.
Among the issues are:
• Direct physical violence that endanger persons, communities, and ancestral domains
• Cultural Violence that result to alienation, disharmony and fear, breaking intergenerational ties and leaving communities as broken peoples
• Structural violence as laws, polices and programs continue to reflect a culture of destruction in pursuit of money and material gains, a politics of accommodation and corruption that takes its toll on the poor who continue to be deprived of basic social services, suffering material poverty
• Ecological violence caused by unbridled development aggression, by mining and other large scale natural resource utilization which continue to plunder the ancestral domains over vehement protests of IPs, often resulting in violence
In response to the Year of the Poor, the delegates released a road map in view of building a “just and humane and God-fearing society pursuing a truly inclusive sustainable development”.
They urge fellow Filipinos, especially government officials, church leaders, and civil society organizations to respect and protect IP rights by implementing the Constitutional provisions, the IP Rights Act and other laws.
On the issue of IP rights to ancestral domains, they demand:
• The repeal of all administrative orders inconsistent with IPRA provisions, particularly the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) No. 1 series of 2012 of NCIP, DENR, DAR and LRA, compromising IP rights over ancestral domains, depriving them of lands without due process, delaying delineation of and formal recognition of ancestral domains and lands
• Fast tracking the process for the formal recognition of ancestral domains, lands, and territories.
• Correct policies of Palawan Council for Sustainable Development on the issue of Ancestral Domains Delineation and formal recognition
• End to development aggression by enforcing sustainable and culture-sensitive programs as determined by IPs
On the right to self-determination and self-governance, they seek:
• Repeal of NCIP Administrative Order on the certification of Indigenous Political Structures, as it violates the IPs’ right to self-governance and self-determination
• Correct enactment of the Joint Memorandum Circular of the DILG and NCIP on Mandatory Representation of IPs in Legislative Bodies of Local Government Units and for DILG to compel all LGU to install all IP Mandatory Representatives chosen concerning local guidelines prepared, adopted, and ratified by IPs
• Respect for real, IP-controlled Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process, repeal of policies or procedures that allow NCIP to get support (financial, technical or logistical) from proponents in the conduct of Field Based Investigation
• Reform of NCIP to a graft-free, IP-controlled agency, mandated to implement IPRA and to promote and protect IP Rights
• IP Rights Act be upheld as a social legislation, and the implementation and interpretation of IPRA favorable to IPs at all times
• Local Civil Registrars and PSA facilitate and open access for registration of birth and marriages of IPs
On the right to cultural integrity, they call for:
• Support and promotion of IP Education (IPED), integration of IP Educational Systems within the Philippine Education System as proposed in House Bill No. 4220
• Schools, universities, and colleges, particularly members of the Catholic Education Association of the Philippines (CEAP), have a proactive role in the promotion of IP ED at all levels (basic to tertiary) in their respective school systems.
• Peace in Mindanao but ensuring non-Bangsamoro peoples, particularly IPs like the Teduray, Lambaginan, Dulangan Manobo, and Pala’wan, and other cultural groups are consulted, and their rights respected, protected and effectively realized
• Respect for IP human rights, prevention and redress of human rights violations, observance of humanitarian laws and policies that ensure the safety of IPs as civilians in any lawfully conducted military or police activities
• IPs are not disenfranchised on electoral processes, ensuring they do not fall prey to vicious politics. Institutionalization of processes which will address common IP problems like accessibility, information/education, documentary requirement, and discrimination (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCPNews)