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Not a terrorist

/ 05:10 AM March 16, 2018

This refers to a news article titled, “Palace: ‘Terrorist’ tag on UN special rapporteur based on intel” (3/10/18).

Victoria Tauli Corpuz, UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, is not a terrorist. She is an indigenous peoples human rights activist.

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The Philippines is recognized all over the world to be in the forefront of the indigenous peoples rights struggle. And rightly so. It is the only country which has a law protecting and promoting the rights of her indigenous peoples—Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997.

Indigenous peoples activists from the Philippines led the decades-old worldwide indigenous peoples rights struggle which culminated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Corpuz led this movement. Under her leadership, the UNDRIP which protects and promotes the rights of indigenous peoples all over the world was approved by the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 13, 2007.

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As chair of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples from 2007 to 2010, I had the honor of helping draft the UNDRIP. I saw first-hand the heroic efforts of Corpuz to ensure the passage of the UNDRIP.

She is the first Filipina to be elected chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), the highest policymaking body of the United Nations dealing with indigenous peoples.

As her colleague in the UNPFII, I also personally witnessed her unceasing efforts toward its full implementation.

The appointment of Corpuz as chair of the UNPFII and as UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples brought honor to the Philippines. It was precisely because of her involvement in the indigenous peoples struggle that she was chosen by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples to be the recipient of the Gabriela Silang Award given to indigenous women leaders for outstanding service to the cause of indigenous peoples.

For all her achievements, Corpuz deserves the support of the Philippine government. A dialogue between her and the President would be in order.

Meanwhile, her name should be stricken from the list of persons the Department of Justice wants to be declared as terrorist. She definitely is not one. On the contrary, she is the epitome of an international civil servant. She is not the enemy.

EUGENIO A. INSIGNE, MNSA, [email protected]

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TAGS: Indigenous Peoples, terrorist, UN special rapporteur, Victoria Tauli Corpuz
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