[People] Indigenous women – still at the margins of development by Judy A. Pasimio

Indigenous women – still at the margins of development
by Judy A. Pasimio
LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights)

Photos by Susan Corpuz of Lilak

Judy Pasimio photo from lilak

“In a period of lethargic global economic activity, we registered an astounding 6.8 percent GDP growth in 2012. We surpassed this in the first quarter of 2013, when we reported growth of 7.8 percent—the highest recorded GDP in East and Southeast Asia.” This was what President PNoy Aquino declared in his latest State of the Nation Address (SONA). According to him, Philippines is now considered a “rising tiger” by the World Bank.

While there is a broad acknowledgement of these growth statistics, there is also a widespread analysis that this growth has not trickled down to the masses, and that inclusive growth is necessary. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) defines inclusive growth as “sustained growth that creates jobs, draws the majority into the economic and social mainstream, and continuously reduces mass poverty.” So what is the grand plan of PNoy in making this much-touted growth more inclusive? Does he have any? If he does, he did not discuss that in his SONA. His emphasis was on sustaining growth. PNoy apparently believes that this number of 7.8% actually means that the lives of poor Filipino peoples have improved. In his SONA, he goes on further, “The transformation of our society is not just evident in the economy or in statistics. Now, Filipinos know: Rich or poor, with or without political connections, when you do wrong, you will pay the consequences. Now, justice is truly blind.”

But with all due respect, Mr. President, we think it is you who are blind, to not see the real conditions of the poor Filipino peoples.

Here are the thoughts of indigenous women who personify the poorest of the poor in our societies. Hearing what PNoy considered as the accomplishments of his administration, the indigenous women expressed disappointment, sadness and even outrage on the lack of attention on, and the exclusion of the plight of indigenous peoples, and the natural resources, on which this so-called development of the government has heavily relied on and on which the survival of indigenous communities depend on. We share the indignation that the indigenous women felt in hearing the president talking about justice, and sounding so fierce in warning about punishment for the killing of suspected carnapper/murderer members of the Ozamis Gang. Aquino, with all the menace he could muster said, “ . . . we will ensure that those at fault will be held accountable—regardless of their rank. Whoever masterminded all of this: prepare yourselves. I am close to learning who you are.” But what about those who masterminded the massacre of the B’laan leader Juvy Capion, and her two sons Jordan, 13 years old, and John, 8 years old last October 2012? We already know who was the lead in this gruesome Tampakan massacre – members of the 27TH Infantry Battalion of Philippine Army led by 1Lt. Dante Jimenez, Commanding Officer of Bravo Company, under the command of Lt. Colonel Noel Alexis Bravo, Battalion Commander. There was an official admission that the military men shot at the family, and they said it was an “operational lapse.” But we have not heard such livid protest, nor warning to the erring military officers from the President. The Indigenous women ask, what does that say about the bias of the President? The Ozamis Gang deserves justice, and the anti-mining indigenous leaders, and those who defend their land such as Juvy Capion and her children, don’t?

What is the focus of this government? Who is the focus of the President in his development program? In his quest for justice? Who are included in inclusive growth? The indigenous women felt, again, excluded, not just in his SONA, but in his whole development program.

We call on the President that in his next, and last, three years of administration, to walk away from this trickle-down formula of development which has not worked, and will never do. What is inclusive growth anyway? It is high time that the government not just aim for the poorest of the poor to be simply included, as if as an afterthought, in the development designed to enrich the richer, to provide more opportunities to the already privileged. Development should start from the margins, focusing on the poorest, the hungriest – the indigenous peoples. This is not just growth, not just development. This is justice.

Indian writer and activist, Arundhati Roy said, “There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. They are only deliberately silenced or preferably unheard of. The indigenous women will not be silenced, until they are heard.

(English translation of the words of the indigenous women provided below.)

Bae Ruth Tilaon – Manobo, Surigao del Sur

Hindi ako masaya sasinabi ni Pnoy sa SONA na ito. Nabigo na naman kaming mga kababaihang tribo. Hindi pa rin nya nabanggit kung ano ang pagtingin nya sa benepisyo namin sa sinasabi nyang kaunlaran. Mabuti pa ang carnapper na namatay (Osamis gang), hinahanapan nya ng hustisya. Ang Ampatuan Massacre wala pa hanggang ngayon. Ang mga lider naming sa komunidad na napatay, wala pa ring hustisya hanggang ngayon. Biased talaga si Pnoy.

Ang 4Ps na programa na pinagmamalaki nya – Dito sa amin, karamihan sa nakakatanggap ay hindi mahihirap tulad ko. Palakasan ang sistema, at madalas ginagamit ito ng mga politiko.

At nasaktan din ako sa mga nakita ko sa mga ralyista. Kahit kaunting oras lang, mapakinggan sana sila. Hindi kailangang saktan sila. Nakakaiyak talaga ang nangyari.

I am not happy with what PNoy said in his SONA. We, the indigenous women, once again feel let down. The President didn’t even talk about us, and how we are part of the development that he was talking about. It was even better for the carnappers who were killed (Osamis Gang), he seeks justice for their deaths. The Ampatuan Massacre, until now, has not been given justice. And our community leaders who have been killed, still no justice for them. PNoy is really biased.

On the 4Ps program that he was so proud of – Here in our community, a lot of the receipients are not poor like me. The program is being used by the politicians, and it is them who determine who becomes part of the program and who are not.

And I felt hurt seeing what happened to the protesters. They could have been given even a short time to be listened to. They did not have to get hurt. It was really saddening.

Robina Poblador – B’laan, Saranggani

Nainis talaga ako sa SONA ni Pnoy. Dahil maraming pangyayari sa mga lupang ninuno namin, wala man lang syang nabanggit tungkol dito, at tungkol sa mga isyu ng mga katutubo. Naryan ang problema sa mining. At yung mga namatay na leader ng mga IPs. Hanggang ngayon, wala pang hustisya. At ang mga Osamis gang na kriminal, talagang may special na pagbanggit para hanapan ng hustisya ang pagpatay. Pero hanggang ngayon, ang mga military na pumatay sa kasama namin na si Juvy Capion at dalawa nyang mga batang anak, ay di pa rin napaparusahan! At wala kaming naririnig na matinding panawagan mula kay PNoy para sa hustisya para kay Juvy. Hanggang ngayon, ang dami pa ring pinapatay sa aming mga B’laan dahil sa gulo ng mina. Wala pa ring hustisya!

Pinag-usapan din ni PNoy ang tungkol sa mga niyog! Dapat bago sya mamigay ng mga niyog niya, ayusin niya muna ang mga problema namin. Aanhin pa namin ang mga niyog nya kung wala na ang mga bundok namin dahil sa mina.

Sana bigyang pansin naman ni PNoy ang mga isyu naming mga IPs.

I was really angry with the SONA of PNoy. So many problems are happening in our territories, and he has not even mentioned any of these, or any of our issues as Indigenous Peoples. There’s the issue of mining. And the killings of our indigenous leaders, who up until now, have not received justice. The criminals of the Osamis Gang even received special attention from him, seeking justice for their deaths. But our B’laan sister Juvy Capion, and her two young boys, who have been killed by the military, have yet to receive justice. And we don’t hear him strongly calling for justice for Juvy! And till now, a lot of B’laans are being killed because of the conflict brought about by mining. Still no justice!

PNoy talked about coconuts. Before he even distributes his coconuts, he should resolve our problems first. What use will be his coconuts for us when we have lost our mountains already to the mines.

We hope PNoy gives attention to our issues as indigenous Peoples.

Kakay Tolentino – Alta-Dumagat, KATRIBU

Sa pangkalahatang balangkas ng plataporma ni PNoy, walang tukoy na plano para sa direktang pagtugon o hakbangin paano tutugunan ang deka-dekadang panawagan ng mga Indigenous Peoples (IPs) na irespeto ang karapatan ng mga IPs sa lupang ninuno at ang aming right to self-determination. Lalo pa ngayonsa kalagayang nagpapatuloy ang panghihimasok at pandarambong sa mga likas yaman at lupaing ninuno ng mga dambuhala at mapangwasak na pagmimina, na kung saan sa kalikasan nakasandig ang batayang kabuhayan at buhay ng mga katutubong pamayanan. Ang pagbanggit sa katagang katutubo ay nakabalangkas lamang sa mga benepisaryo ng philhealth. Hindi ito tuwirang katugunan sa mga makatarungang batayang serbisyong panlipunan na tulad na laging binabanggit ng rehimeng Aquino na sa pagmimina magkakaroon ng malaking pag unlad ang kabuhayan ng mga IPs at ng buong mamamayang Pilipino. Sa kabila nito, walang nasabing pagtugon at pagbibigay ng hustisya sa patuloy na dumaraming human rights violations tulad ng mga extrajudicial killings ng mga katutubong bata, kalalakihan at kababaihang liders na pawang nagtatanggol sa karapatan sa lupaing ninuno at lumalaban sa pagpasok ng mga dayuhang imperyalistang panghihimasok at pandarambong.

Hinggil sa sinasabing isa sa priority ang energy projects – JALAUR mega dam sa Panay Island, na sinasabing para matugunan ang pangangailangan ng industriya at hindi ang pangangailangan ng agrikultura ng ating bansa. Talagang pinahihirapan ang pag-debelop ng ating agrikultura. Naryan pa rin ang nagpapatuloy na pyudal na pagsasamantala sa mga magsasaka na nagbabasura sa inutil na CARPER. Dapat nangipatupad ang tunay na reporma sa lupang pang agraryo para sa mahihirap na magsasaka, kabilang ang pagrespeto sa karapatan sa lupaing ninuno at karapatan sa sariling pagpapasya ng mga katutubo.

In the overall platform of PNoy, there is no direct plan to respond or to take steps to address the decade-long demands of the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) to respect their rights to their ancestral domains and their right to self-determination. This is especially crucial now, given the continuing encroachment into our ancestral domains and plunder of our natural resources by the giant and destructive mining companies, affecting the communities who depend on natural resources for their livelihood and their very lives. The mention of IPs in his SONA was only in reference to us as beneficiaries of Philhealth. This does not address the lack of basic social services, which the Aquino regime claims will be provided for by the mining industry.

On the other hand, there was no mention about the continuing human rights violations like extrajudicial killings of indigenous children, men and women leaders who were defending their rights to their ancestral domains, and fighting against the encroachment and plunder of imperialist companies.

On the priority energy projects –Jalaur mega dam in Panay Island, PNoy said that is being built to address the needs of the industry and not the agriculture of our country. There is also the ongoing feudal oppression against the farmers who are rejecting the inutile CARPER law. It is necessary to implement a genuine agrarian reform, which will benefit poor farmers, respect the rights of the indigenous peoples to their ancestral domains, and the rights to self-determination.

Wilma Tero – Subanen / Midsalip

Ang sabi ni Pnoy “Ang sona na ito ay SONA NINYO.” Napakasarap pakinggan nito na sa aking pagkaintindi pagsinabi niya SONA ninyo ito ay bahagi ako sa mga developments na binabanggit niya sa sona niya. Pero bakit hindi ko ma feel na bahagi ako sa sona niya? Simple lang ang sagot dahil bilang katutubong kababaihan hindi ko mararamdam na may development sa aming mga katutubo. Wala man lang pagbanggit si Pnoy ilan na bang CADT (certificate of ancestral domain title) ang na isyu ng kanyang administrasyon sa taong 2012. Hindi rin nya na banggit ano ang plano ng gobyerno para mapanatili sa amin ang aming natitirang lupaing ninuno na sa ngayon ay nasa critical na sitwasyon dahil gusto nang nakawin ng mga dambuhalang minero.

Pangulong PNoy, hindi lang 4Ps(Pantawid Programa para sa Pamilyang Pilipino) ang makapagbigay saya sa aming mga katutubong kababaihan. Gusto rin namin makamit ang tunay na kapayapaan sa loob ng aming lupaing ninuno. Papano ba kaming mga kababaihang katutubo at ang buong tribo magiging mapayapa kung patuloy ang kaguluhan sa amin dahil nandyan ang presensya ng mga minero at ng mga armadong security guards nila? Papano ba kami patuloy na makipagsalamuha kay Megbebaya’ (diyos) kung napakaingay na ng aming buong lupaing ninuno? Papano pa namin maipagpatuloy ang aming unique culture kung tuluyan nang nakawin sa amin ang aming konti nalang natitirang lupain? Ang lupa o kalikasan ay siyang puso ng aming kultura, kung itoy mawala sa amin mamamatay na rin ang aming kultura. Pangulong PNoy, lingonin mo rin kami, tingnan at pakinggan . Hindi namin hinangad ang uri ng development na nakakasira at nakakamatay sa aming lahat at sa aming kultura. Para sa aming mga kababaihang katutubo, ang tunay na development ay ang naaayon sa aming pangangailangan at angkop sa aming kultura.

PNoy said, “This is your SONA.” This is so good to hear, and as I understand this means that I am part of the developments that he was reporting on in his SONA. But how come I do not feel that I am part of his SONA? The answer is simple – because as an indigenous woman, I do not feel that there has been any development within our community. PNoy did not even mention how many Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) has been issued in 2012. He also has not talked about his plans as to how his government will help in protecting the remaining lands and domains from the encroachment of giant mining companies.

President PNoy, it is not only 4Ps (Pantawid Programa para sa Pamilyang Pilipino) that will make us happy. We also want to achieve genuine peace in our community, in our ancestral domains. But how will we, indigenous women, and the rest of our tribes, feel the peace when conflict in our areas intensify with the presence of mining and their armed security guards? How can we continue to relate and commune with Megbebeya’ (God) when our community is in conflict? How can we continue to practice our culture when our remaining lands are being robbed from us? Our land and environment are part of our culture, and heritage. If all of these will be taken away from us, then we lose our culture. President PNoy, turn to us, look at us, and listen to us. We do not wish for the kind of development that destroys and kills us, and our culture. For us, indigenous women, genuine development is one that is culturally appropriate for us, and that responds to our needs.

Judith Manares – Ibaloi, Baguio City

Nakakalungkot ang SONA ni PNoy. Hindi ito SONA ng katutubo, SONA lang nya ito. Isa na namang klase ng suhol para sa katutubo ang binabanggit nyang Philhealth. Gaya na naman ito ng 4Ps na ginagamit ng gobyerno para mapagtakpan ang tunay na problema ng kahirapan ng ating bansa, at ang maraming isyu ng mga mahihirap tulad ng mga katutubo – ang patuloy na paninira ng mga kalikasan sa loob ng ancestral domains ng mga mapang-api na mga korporasyon, ang patuloy na pagpatay ng mga katutubong hindi sumasang ayon sa mga mapanirang mga developments, ang di makamtang hustisya ng mga walang awang pinatay, ang di tamang pagbigay mga serbisyong gobyerno para sa tamang pangangailangan ng katutubong komunidad. Binanggit nya ang Jalaur dam sa Iloilo na malaking tulong sa probinsya pero takip ang kanyang mata at tenga sa iyak ng mga katutubong sinilangan na malulunod sa dam na ito. Umiiyak ang mga tribo na nandoon, pero bingi ang gobyerno ni pnoy sa kanilang iyak. Walang silbi ang laman ng sona nya sa akin, hindi akin ang SONA nya dahil wala akong naramdaman na umangat ang aking kabuhayan bagkus mas lalo pang nalugmok ang katutubo na namumuhay sa bundok. Ang SONA nya ay para sa mga tao na namumuhay sa urbanidad, sila ang nakinabang sa dulot ng pagpapahihirap sa aming katutubo. Luhaan na naman ang katutubo sa kanyang gobyerno. SONA? Tigilan na yan.

PNoy’s SONA is saddening. This is not the SONA of indigenous peoples. This is just his. The mentioned Philhealth benefits for indigenous peoples is just another form of bribery. It’s just like the 4Ps that is being used by the government to cover up the real problem of poverty of our country, and the various issues of the poor, such as the indigenous people. Critical issues such as unabated destruction of the environment within our ancestral domain by oppressive companies, the killings of indigenous leaders who do not agree to the destructive development, the lack of justice for these killings, and the lack of basic social services to the indigenous communities. PNoy mentioned the Jalaur dam in Iloilo, which he claims will be a big development for the province, but his ears and eyes are deaf and blind to the tears of the indigenous peoples who will be inundated by this dam. I did not feel that his SONA was my SONA because I did not feel any improvement in the lives of indigenous communities, as their lives in the mountains have worsened. His SONA is for those people living in the cities, who benefit on the sacrifices of indigenous peoples. The indigenous peoples are once again in tears. SONA? Let’s just put a stop to this.


Bae Rose Undag – Higaonon, Misamis Occidental

Sa SONA ni Pnoy, hindi nya nabanggit ang mga mina na kung saan ito ay makikita sa loob ng Lupaing Ninuno at ito ay nagdudulot ng kaguluhan at patayan. Ang Lupaing Ninuno at teritoryo ng mga katutubo ay hindi nabibigyang pansin ni PNoy, gayong dito nagmula ang mga likas yaman sa Pilipinas. Ang patuloy na pagpatay sa mga pangulo ng mga tribu na kahit isa hindi nabigyan ng hustisya ay wala din sa pag iisip ni PNoy.

Walang pakialam si PNoy sa kalagayan ng mga katutubo sa Pilipinas. Maski sa usapang pang KAPAYAPAAN, lalo na sa Mindanao ay hindi pa rin nabanggit ang mga katutubo, na parang wala kaming kinalaman sa usaping ito, na parang di kami apektado sa usaping ito.

Kaya naman, tayo, mga katutubong kababaihan at kalalakihan, patuloy pa rin tayong kumikilos para sa kapakanan ng mga katutubo. Dahil hindi natin maasahan ang kasalukuyang gobyerno para kalingain tayo.

In his SONA, PNoy did not mention anything about mining operations which can be seen within our ancestral domains and which bring about conflict and killings. PNoy has not given any attention to our ancestral domains and territories, considering these are where our natural resources come from. The ongoing killings of indigenous leaders which have not yet been given justice are far from the mind of PNoy.

PNoy does not care about the situation of the indigenous peoples. Even as he discussed Peace, especially in Mindanao, he has not mentioned us, as if we have nothing to do with the issue of Peace, as if we are not affected by this matter.

And that is why we, indigenous women and men, should continue to act and work towards the fulfillment of our interests. Because we have seen that we cannot rely on this government to take care ofus.

Photos by Susan Corpuz
July 31, 2013
For more info: judy@lilak.net / 09175268341

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