DAVAO CITY — Saying the law on indigenous Filipinos has “failed to deter the plunder of our national patrimony and exploitation of our indigenous territories”, the activist organization of tribal Filipinos called on the scrapping of both the law and the agency that was created to administer to the welfare of tribal Filipinos.
The national tribal alliance, Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP), has accused the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) of standing witness to the plunder without doing anything, and therefore must be “permanently abolished” alongside the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997.
It said that the NCIP “has proven itself an effective instrument in peddling and expediting the sellout of ancestral lands to corporate interests”.
In a statement Wednesday to mark the 17th year of the IPRA, tribal leaders cited the latest assessment that the IPRA law “has eased and legalized the plunder and ancestral land-grabbing of capitalist corporations.”
According to KAMP’s assessment, local and foreign-owned projects across the country have caused massive displacements of tribal groups “aside from the usual ecological destruction it caused to the environment which apparently caused a tool on the security and livelihood of these tribal groups living in the areas”.
In Panay Island, it said the Jalaur River Megadam Project “will eventually displace 17,000 Tumandok people despite the blatant refusal of the indigenous peoples to give their consent”.
KAMP said revival of the Laiban Dam that the tribal Dumagats and Remontados have resisted, has threatened anew the 20,000 hectares of the Sierra Madre mountains in northern Luzon.
In the Cordillera also in northern Luzon, KAMP said there existed a manipulation of the free and prior informed consent, a requirement for mining operations, in projects such as in Bakun, Benguet in favor of the mining application of Royalco, and in Mankayan, Benguet on the expansion of Lepanto, and in big energy projects such as Chevron in Guinaang, Kalinga.
In Mindanao, KAMP noted that “NCIP played its role as broker and facilitator of corporations and have even spoken in behalf of mining corporations.”
“In Mindanao, mining projects, agribusiness plantations and dam and energy projects are most abundant. The NCIP bastardized and distorted indigenous leadership and systems by creating its own system of tribal chieftain, tribal barangay and consultative body to favor capitalist interests.”
“Worse, most of these “tribal leaders” conferred by NCIP are leaders of paramilitary groups that sow terror among the Lumad peoples such as the Alamara, Bulif, Salawakan, and NIPAR among others,” KAMP noted.
“These are a few samples of the disenfranchisement and violations of indigenous peoples rights brought on by the IPRA and the NCIP. The position to abolish the NCIP and to junk IPRA is strengthened by the experience of the Igorot people in the shameless manipulation of the NCIP of the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) for projects encroaching ancestral lands,” said KAMP.
KAMP added that “NCIP has proven itself an effective instrument in peddling and expediting the sellout of ancestral lands to corporate interests. The people’s money intended to protect the rights of indigenous peoples is used to violate the very same rights.”
“The NCIP played no role in stopping the entry of these projects despite the clear and iterant rejection of indigenous peoples. Through land titles stipulated by the IPRA, formerly communally-held lands are awarded to a few favored people, making our ancestral lands easily disposed of or sold to corporate interests.”
KAMP also scored NCIP’s “idleness, silence, and futility in protecting indigenous peoples from killings, enforced disappearances, trumped-up charges, forced evacuations, attacks on our schools, militarization of our communities and other grave human rights abuses being committed against our people.”
“We hold the NCIP liable for the killings and human rights violations afflicted on indigenous peoples. The militarization brought on by NCIP-facilitated and State-backed projects encroaching on our ancestral lands has caused the numerous human rights violations and killings of our people,” KAMP said.
KAMP believes that “IPRA law is a deceptive and lethal tool of the government, for plunder and exploitation of indigenous peoples’ territories that serves the interests of the ruling elite and its imperialist masters.”
“IPRA worsened the historical injustice committed against indigenous peoples. IPRA never aspired for the recognition of indigenous peoples’ right of self-determination.”
KAMP affirmed that only “genuine recognition and respect of our rights as indigenous peoples will only come from our continuing struggle for ancestral land and self-determination.”
“Seventeen years of IPRA is enough. The only through systemic change, that will free the country from state terrorism, bureaucratic corruption, national oppression, plunder and greed will we fully realize these rights, and will be the fruit of the fervent mass struggle of indigenous peoples and the rest of the Filipino people,” said KAMP. (davaotoday.com)