Raise awareness against IP exploitation this IP Month | Inquirer Opinion
LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Raise awareness against IP exploitation this IP Month

/ 05:01 AM October 22, 2021

October marks the National Indigenous Peoples Month and the 24th anniversary of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act. The indigenous peoples (IPs) from the Manobo community of Talaingod, Davao del Norte are expressing concern about their Manobo chieftain Bae Bibyaon, one of the leaders of the IP community who was brought from Davao to Metro Manila through the Lakbayan march in 2015 and is currently at the UP Save Our Schools Network (SOS) in UP Diliman.

I believe this important issue must be discussed, especially during this celebration of IP month.

How will SOS respond to the claims of former rebels, including Rurelyn Bay-ao, Bibyaon’s grandniece and the head of the IP youth group Bakwit, that SOS is the organization behind the “bakwit” school and is connected with the CPP-NPA? How will the organization refute the claim that they won’t let Bae Bibyaon go home because she is seen as the icon for the group’s fund-raising schemes? Was the bakwit school used as one of the recruitment grounds for the “70 to 80 percent” IP communist rebels who surrendered in June this year as reported by the NTF-Elcac?

The IPs stand up for their rights and self-determination while nurturing their ancestral lands as a safe domain. But there are manipulative organizations targeting them for recruitment through deception, radicalization, and exploitation.

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I hope this celebration of IP month will serve as an avenue to discuss current issues affecting IPs and to raise broader awareness and commitment for their protection and development. Along with addressing their socioeconomic needs, they deserve a safe environment to live in and a progressive community free from the manipulative communist ideology.

Mariz Lagmay, [email protected]

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TAGS: Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act, IP, Manobo, National Indigenous People's Month, October

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