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Continue defense of IPs, Rody asked

/ 12:12 AM May 12, 2016

The indigenous peoples’ organizations under Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu) call on the likely next president, Rodrigo Duterte, to uphold his promise of genuine change and to continue defending the rights of the indigenous peoples (IP).

In the Aquino presidency’s “daang matuwid,” IP communities found themselves at the losing end of destructive projects like mining and intense militarization, which have effectively sent hundreds of lumad fleeing to evacuation centers for refuge. Even during the campaign and election period, indigenous communities were subjected to harassment and intimidation by the military in attempts to dissuade them from voting for progressive party-lists. The blatant oppression of the lumad and blatant disrespect for IP rights have to stop now!

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As mayor of Davao City, Duterte supported the lumad refugees in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines-Haran and condemned the administration for the Kidapawan massacre. Duterte has issued a ban on mining activities in Davao City due to their harmful impact on the environment.

Duterte has time and again shown himself as a leader who understands the plight of indigenous peoples and their concerns. However, we find worrisome his recent policy pronouncements about allowing full foreign land ownership and “responsible mining.” All over the world, where such policies are being applied, land-grabbing of ancestral domains and state terror only exacerbated the plight of IP communities.

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Under his watch, President Aquino opened almost 730,000 hectares of ancestral land to mining, monocrop plantations, economic zones, military camps and US bases. Foreign mining corporations, aided by government soldiers, launched a campaign of deception and intimidation to force indigenous peoples into leaving their land. At least 90 indigenous peoples have been killed by the state’s Armed Forces since July 2010. Of the 90 victims of extrajudicial killings, 75 were lumad, and among them were tribal leaders, women and children.

We challenge likely president-elect Rodrigo Duterte to avoid becoming the same monster that Mr. Aquino was. We challenge Duterte to live up to his promise of “tunay na pagbabago” and stand for the rights of indigenous peoples all over the country. We reiterate our call for the immediate scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and the thorough investigation and punishment of the perpetrators of the unjust killings of our leaders. We demand an immediate stop to the killing of indigenous leaders who are vocal against projects destructive to their communities.

—Piya Mcliing Malayao and Rei Paulin

secretary general and media liason, respectively, of Katribu

Room 304 NCCP Building, 876 Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue

West Triangle, Quezon City, [email protected]

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TAGS: Indigenous Peoples, Lumad, Rodrigo Duterte
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