[Press Release] Indigenous Women marked five years of Duterte with climate of ‘Fear’ and widespread ‘Violence’ | LILAK

#HumanRights #IndigenousPeoples

Indigenous Women marked five years of Duterte with climate of ‘Fear’ and widespread ‘Violence’

In commemoration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, indigenous women mark President Rodrigo Duterte’s regime with endless hardships, poverty, climate of fear, and widespread violations of human rights. They recount how they experienced constant fear and continuous intimidation throughout Duterte’s five years in office.

According to Jennevie Cornelio, a Teduray leader from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), fear and violence were the core foundations of Duterte’s rule, and war was his weapon to villainize, harass, torture, and kill his perceived enemies.

“The NTF-ELCAC, E.O. 70, the Anti-Terrorism Act, military deployment in BARMM and indigenous communities all over the country – these are all systematic attacks against us indigenous women human rights defenders. We defend our rights as indigenous people and as women, and every day we live in constant fear,” said Cornelio.

During the National Indigenous Women Gathering (NIWG) organized by LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights) last July 31, more than a hundred indigenous women from over 29 different communities from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao gathered to assert the true state and situation of indigenous women in the Philippines. They pointed out how the 6th State of the Nation Address (SONA) of Duterte was quick to label and tag them in the context of the war against insurgency but is silent on the multiple struggles of IP communities during his term.

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) claims that a vast majority of rebels are from indigenous communities. This led to threats, disappearances, and killings of indigenous people. Among the victims are women human rights defenders who have been defending their ancestral domains from corporate and government land-grabbing for decades. They are active in campaigns against large-scale open-pit mining, mega dams, and industrial plantations.

According to Judy Pasimio, National Coordinator of LILAK, the challenges experienced by indigenous women have also been exacerbated by the pandemic. Since the implementation of community quarantines in the country, they struggled to maintain their livelihoods and feed their families and communities.

“The pandemic has highlighted the exclusion and isolation of indigenous communities from government care and services. Indigenous women did not even have information on COVID-19 during the first few months of the pandemic. They did not know what it was or how they can protect themselves from it. There was also no information on what support they can avail during these difficult times,” Pasimio added.

The 124 participating indigenous women from different communities issued a unity statement vowing to continue their struggle to defend ancestral land and exact accountabilities to the widespread human rights violations committed by the Duterte government.

“We will continue to gather our collective strength and voices until there is a government that truly cares for indigenous peoples, for women, for the environment, and who recognize women as integral for the development of our country,” the unity statement concluded.

Ms. Jennevie Cornelio
Inged Fintailan

Ms. Judy Pasimio
LILAK Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights

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