on the Adoption of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples Rights
The Cordillera Peoples Alliance joins
more than 370 million indigenous peoples all over the world in celebrating
as victory the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples on September 13, 2007 during the 61st
General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, where 144 countries,
including the Philippines, voted for the adoption of the Declaration.
Eleven countries abstained, while New Zealand, the United States,
Canada and Australia voted against the Declaration.
As we acknowledge the 144 countries, including the
Philippine government for decisively taking a stand in favor of
the world's indigenous peoples, we denounce the New Zealand, US,
Canadian and Australian governments for their rejection manifesting
their longstanding all-out denial and violation of indigenous peoples
rights. It is not even in their imagination to rectify the historic
injustice, oppression, exploitation and discrimination against the
world's indigenous peoples that the Declaration intends to correct.
What only matters to them is their imperialist plunder and corporate
greed that sacrifices the interests and welfare of indigenous peoples
as demonstrated in their consistent rejection of the Declaration
ever since and their NO vote in that judgement day of September
This historic event is a landmark victory for the
world's indigenous peoples after two decades. The adoption of the
Declaration is a significant gain and a step forward for us indigenous
peoples in our collective struggle for the right to self-determination,
that is, to freely determine our political status and freely pursue
our economic, social and cultural development. Since 1985, the CPA
helped draft and actively pushed for the adoption together with
indigenous peoples and advocates worldwide. Indeed, this is the
only Declaration in the UN crafted with indigenous peoples themselves.
The Challenge after the Victory
What does the Declaration mean to us indigenous peoples of the Philippines,
and the Cordillera in particular?
The Declaration sets the minimum standard towards
the full recognition of our collective rights as indigenous peoples.
It is an additional weapon in pursuing our struggle for self determination
and defense of our ancestral lands and resources. It embodies our
basic rights to our right to self determination, our right to own
and control our lands, territories and resources, our right to free,
prior, and informed consent among others. The urgent challenge now
is the immediate implementation of the UN Declaration on Indigenous
After voting for the Declaration's adoption, we
call on the Philippine government to review its policies and laws
oppressive of indigenous peoples to be consistent with the UN Declaration.
Expected to have voted the adoption of the Declaration in good faith,
the government is obliged more than ever to concretely uphold our
collective rights by implementing the Declaration and repeal laws
and policies favoring big national and transnational corporate interests
over indigenous peoples such as the Mining Act of 1995, National
Minerals Policy, Oplan Bantay Laya I and II, Human Security Act
of 2007 to cite a few. The Declaration means recognition of our
demands to stop development aggression in indigenous communities
by clearing these of destructive projects such as mining, logging,
and large dams. Thus, we reiterate our call for a moratorium of
all large-scale mining applications and operations in the Cordillera
region, where 1.2 million hectares or 66% of the region's 1.8 million
hectare-land area is already covered by pending applications. Self
determination cannot be realized if our lands and resources are
exploited for plunder and imperialist greed.
With this goes the demilitarization of indigenous
communities, to curtail the unabated human rights violations perpetrated
and aggravated by state forces. At a nationwide scale, the Indigenous
Peoples Rights Watch reported 130 indigenous persons killed under
the Arroyo government (February 2001 to June 2007), 45 of which
are Igorots. This figure includes the political assassination of
Rafael Markus Bangit and Alyce Omengan Claver. Militarization of
indigenous communities persist in the region and we restate our
demand to demilitarize the Cordillera in the context of respecting
the collective and individual rights of Cordillera indigenous peoples.
Aware that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples is not the main solution to issues and problems confronting
us as world's indigenous peoples, we must pursue and intensify our
struggles in our respective home countries and ancestral territories
until our right to self determination is achieved. And aware that
the Declaration is not binding, it is still a step forward towards
sustaining what has been initially won in our collective struggles.
As long as we are united, we can make a difference and we can achieve
our aspirations. It is also a challenge for us to be vigilant and
continue pushing our respective governments to implement the Declaration.
Only then, the Declaration will be meaningful to us.
Onward with the struggle for self determination!
CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE
September 17, 2007
Baguio City, Philippines