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statements May 2013
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United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Twelfth Session
United Nations Headquarters, New York
May 20-31, 2013

Intervention on Item 7 - Human Rights: (a) Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

By: Mr. Windel Bolinget, Cordillera Peoples Alliance and Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan sa Pilipinas

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

In a country that has adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the UN Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights treaties and instruments, and has passed the national Indigenous Peoples Rights Act supposedly to protect the rights of indigenous peoples, the escalating human rights violations committed against indigenous peoples in the Philippines is alarming. Specifically, the collective rights of indigenous peoples as embodied in the UNDRIP continue to be attacked in the name of "development" and "for peace."

The present administration of President Benigno Aquino III prioritize foreign investments in corporate and destructive mining, energy and other extractive industry projects at the expense of indigenous peoples. President Aquino signed Mining Executive Order 79 in July 2012 which allowed the Philippine military and paramilitary groups to act as investment defense forces for mining and other so-called development projects. The Aquino government has likewise embarked on a Public-Private Partnership scheme which privatizes health services and other social services resulting in further marginalization of indigenous peoples.

Alongside extractive industries and other development projects, the Aquino regime is aggressively implementing its counter-insurgency policy called Operation Plan Bayanihan or Oplan Bayanihan. Oplan Bayanihan is a continuation of the Operation Plan Bantay Laya of the former Arroyo regime. It is a State policy which makes indigenous activists and human rights defenders open targets of various human rights violations. It is is also directed towards the protection of extractive industry projects, thus, the heightened militarization of indigenous communities especially in areas with strong resistance against extractive industry projects. Military troops have encamped inside indigenous peoples' villages. State terrorism and criminalization of community resistance and collective assertion of our human righst as indigenous peoples continue. Our right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent in relation to these projects is often violated.

Indigenous peoples are opposed to such projects because these will displace us from our ancestral lands and territories that is tied to our culture, and will rob us of our livelihood and natural resources. To indigenous peoples, Land is Life.

Oplan Bayanihan resulted in extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, forced displacement, rape, harassment, militarization, forced evacuation, and other forms of human rights violations against indigenous peoples have continued with impunity. From July 2010 to the present, there are 35 documented cases of extrajudicial killings of indigenous peoples and 1 case of enforced disappearance. This include the massacre of the pregnant wife and two young children of Daguil Capion on October 18, 2012 in Southern Philippines. Daguil and his wife have actively opposed the proposed Xstrata open-pit mining operations in South Cotabato. From March-October 2012, five indigenous leaders who are opposed to different corporate mining and oil palm plantation projects were killed in Mindanao.  From July 2010 to October 2012, more than a thousand families and 600 individuals had to forcibly evacuate from their villages in order to save their lives from the massive aerial and ground military operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. This has also resulted in economic dislocation for the affected communities.

Children are not spared from the human rights atrocities committed by the State military. In 2012, seven indigenous children below 15 years of age were killed, and two minor girls were raped by an official of Armed Forces of the Philippines in the Cordillera. Military encampment in schools, day care centers and public facilities violates children's rights and affects their psycho-social development.

The lives and security of indigenous leaders and activists are also at risk through political vilification or when they are maliciously tagged as members or supporters of the armed revolutionary New Peoples Army. A resident of Tinoc, Ifugao province was subjected to psychological and physical torture in July 2012 by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. In October 2012, the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance received a Target List with logos of Charlie Company of the 86th Battalion of the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. The Target List bore 28 names of civilians, and the Secretary General of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, Mr. Jude Baggo.

Up to this day, the perpetrators of extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations who were identified as either members of the State military or paramilitary groups have not been persecuted.
There can be no peace and development when human rights and indigenous peoples' collective rights continue to be violated.

With this situation of indigenous peoples' human rights in the Philippines, we would like to put forward and reiterate the following recommendations for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to act upon:

  1. For the Philippine government to fulfill its international human rights obligations and seriously uphold and implement the UNDRIP especially our collective rights to our traditional lands, territories, resources including our free prior informed consent.
  2. For the Philippine government to put an end to Oplan Bayanihan, and pull out State military forces from indigenous communities and territories.
  3. For the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, Prof. James Anaya, to visit the Philippines and conduct an investigation on the cases of indigenous peoples' rights violations.
  4. Push for a speedy and effective mechanism of prosecuting and convicting perpetrators of human rights violations against indigenous peoples in order to ensure justice to the victims and stop impunity.
  5. For a revocation of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and Executive Order 79 and instead enact a law that recognizes indigenous peoples rights such as the alternative mining or People's Mining Bill.
  6. Support the peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and call on the parties in the armed conflict to ensure that our rights as indigenous peoples are considered in their peace negotiations towards a just and lasting peace.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.


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