DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is set to open an information hub eyed to further strengthen monitoring and protection of the Indigenous People’s (IP) rights in the country.
The “IP Human Rights observatory” will serve as a “depository” of documents gathered from the conducted inquiries, IP communities, civil service organizations (CSOs) and other agencies concerning IPs, Lawyer Gwendolyn LL. Pimentel-Gana, CHR focal commissioner of IPs, said on Wednesday in an interview.
“The observatory will serve as main resource where all data will be gathered to come up with a holistic approach to the problem and the needs of the IPs,” Pimentel-Gana told reporters during the National Inquiry on the Situation of the Filipino Indigenous Peoples held here.
The commissioner added that given with the proper documents and accurate statistics, the rights observatory shall provide the IPs a “permanent mechanism” for regular monitoring and a venue for them to talk with government officials and CSOs to come up with solutions to their problems.
Geroncio Aguio, regional director of the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) 11 cited the importance of assisting IPs to obtain proper documents, especially on ancestral domain and human rights.
Cases filed by IPs against private sectors are usually dismissed because of the lack of evidence and documents, he added.
Pimentel-Gana said they are hopeful to start initial storage of information early next year, months after the final leg of IP inquiry in Mindanao will be conducted. The observatory will be housed in the main office in Quezon City.
CHR cited recurring issues of IP leaders, including securing ancestral domain and integrity of Free Prior and Informed Consent process, self-governance and representation, socio-economic and cultural development, and the protection of IP women, children and elders, based on recent inquiries in Luzon and Visayas.
Lumad killings, land conflicts, economic, educational and social development, and human rights protection were among the issues raised earlier during an inquiry on IP leaders from Regions 11 and 12.(davaotoday.com)