“ATM welcome these developments, and view these as government’s efforts to sincerely address the plight of indigenous communities”, said Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator of ATM.
DILG, DND pledge to protect leaders of indigenous peoples
The Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Defense and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples have beefed up their support to indigenous peoples through the setting up of help desks to address IP concerns, particularly the rising incidence of killings of IP leaders.
Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat, who chairs the House Committee on National Cultural Communities, revealed that the DILG has recently established an IP desk to look into rights violations against IPs in local government units and agencies attached to the DILG.
The DND, meanwhile, through its human rights desks, has also committed to work with the NCIP in the crafting of a quick response protocol to aid IP leaders facing death threats and harassment and to also seek justice for the slain IP leaders.
Baguilat disclosed that the NCIP, which is the main agency tasked to uphold the rights and welfare of indigenous peoples, had also established a task force to quickly respond to human rights violations against IP leaders.
He further stated that these concerted actions from various government agencies is a welcome move to address the injustices committed against indigenous leaders struggling for the defense of their ancestral domains against destructive projects and land grabbing. With these, indigenous peoples now have more avenues for the redress of their grievances and they don’t to travel all the way to Manila to lobby for their issues.
These major actions by the DILG, DND and NICP were spurred by the recent spate of killings of IP leaders fighting to keep the indigenous peoples’ domain over their ancestral domain being eyed by mining and logging interests.
In separate resolutions filed last May at the House of Representatives, Baguilat called for the immediate investigation of the assassination of Florita Caya, General Manager of the Unified Tribal Council of Elders and Leaders, which was awarded an ancestral domain title over 30,468 hectares in Monkayo, Compostela Valley, and Armando Maximino, a Dumagat tribal chieftain of Delebsong, Dinalungan, Aurora.
Baguilat said in the resolution that bringing the assailants to justice was in keeping with the Aquino administration’s policy against extrajudicial killings, particularly of leaders of cause-oriented groups and indigenous peoples.
He expressed confidence that with the setting up of these help desks, IP leaders would be able to pursue their programs in peace, for the betterment of indigenous peoples around the country.
He added that the NCC committee will likewise convene in the coming month the national task force to investigate past cases of IP killings and look into arising cases of killings against IP leaders in the coming month in keeping up with the recommendations during the congressional hearing on the cases of Maximino and Caya last month.
This task force will be composed of representatives from CHR, PNP, OPAPP, NCC committee members and various CSOs and will be spearheaded by NCIP. The objective of this task force is to investigate the killings against IP leaders and look into policy reforms with regards to the root causes of the killings.
Cong Baguilat concluded that the positive responses from various government in addressing human rights violations against indigenous peoples gives hope to the many indigenous groups in the country who have long been seeking justice.
I hope these initiatives will be sustained and will become part of the regular functions of the said government agencies so as not to disappoint the voices of indigenous peoples clamoring for justice which is now getting stronger as they know they have allies in the government for the protection of their collective rights, he said.#
Office of Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat
Lone District, Ifugao
Chairman, National Cultural Communities
For questions, please contact Robeliza Halip at:
Tel. No.: (02) 9315106/Mobile No.: 09214928244/email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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