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Regional Consultation-Dialogue on the
2nd Decade of the World's Indigenous People

Sta. Catalina Convent, Baguio City
August 9, 2007

Declaration of Unity

We, participants of the Regional Consultation-Dialogue on the 2nd Decade of the World's Indigenous People, numbering over 120 and representing 35 indigenous peoples' organizations, nongovernmental organizations, churches and advocate groups from all over the Cordilleras, have gathered this August 9, 2007 to celebrate the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples.

We are gathered here as indigenous peoples to share, discuss and celebrate our struggles, issues, experiences and victories in asserting our rights to land and self-determination. Though we celebrate, we are saddened by the reality that we continue to be confronted by the following:

1. Loss, destruction and expropriation of our lands, resources and traditional knowledge due to development projects like dams, mines, export processing zones, monocrop plantation and reservations; and conflicts arising from political boundaries;

2. Systematic landgrabbing of Ibaloi ancestral lands in Baguio City, conflicting and overlapping land claims, worsening poverty of indigenous urban poor, lack of services, landlessness, unemployment;

3. Worsening plight of our farmers (vegetable importation that directly compete against local produce, high cost of agro-chemical inputs and low prices of local products) and forced outmigration as a result of government's neoliberal economic policies;

4. Commercialization, misappropriation, bastardization and misrepresentation of our indigenous culture - traditions, institutions, practices and sacred sites; discriminatory portrayal in media and in the educational system; nonrecognition of our indigenous languages, histories in the educational system;

5. Worsening violations of our basic and collective rights as a result of militarization and anti-insurgency campaigns (e.g., Oplan Bantay Laya), political killings of our indigenous leaders and members, labeling of indigenous organization as terrorists, threats due to the implementation of the Human Security Act of 2007;

6. Environmental destruction and degradation due to large-scale dams, commercial mining and logging activities; entry of Genetically-Modified Organisms (GMOs such as in Ifugao); treasure hunting (e.g., in Benguet); pollution and poor waste management in urban areas; widespread use of agro-chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers; worsening impacts of climate change;

7. Lack of basic, accessible, affordable and appropriate health services; non-recognition and protection of traditional health practices; discrimination in the provision and delivery of health services (e.g., in Apayao); illnesses due to chemical use in mining and farming; lack of health education.

Faced with this situation, we persist in our struggle as we strengthen our communities, organizations and networks and build our capacities to confront these issues. We continue to raise our awareness of the root causes of these problems; we mobilize our communities and employ militant forms of struggles while building networks and alliances with the different sectors of Philippine society.

While we welcome the adoption by the UN Human Rights Council of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we call on the Philippine government to adopt the Declaration during the ongoing UN 61st General Assembly. This Declaration represents our minimum aspirations towards the recognition of our rights as indigenous peoples.

We call on the government to ratify ILO 169 (International Labour Organization Convention 169) and to fulfill its obligations in international law. We urge the government to fully recognize our rights and stop the violation of our individual and collective rights.

We also call on the government - agencies and local government units - to include in their programmes and policies, the Regional Programme of Action that we have identified to make the 2nd Decade of the World's Indigenous People truly reflective of our situations and aspirations.

Lastly, we call on our fellow indigenous peoples to persevere in asserting our rights to our lands, resources and self-determination so that our future, and our children's future, is protected and ensured.#

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