by TYRONE A. VELEZ
DAVAO CITY — The issue of the Talaingod Manobo displacement would be raised by an indigenous peoples woman leader in the ongoing 13th United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York starting last May 12 to 23.
The indigenous leader, Norma Capuyan of the Tagabawa-Bagobo tribe from North Cotabato, is joining the forum as a representative of Lumad organizations particularly from Mindanao which has 18 ethnolinguistic tribes.
The high-level forum brings hundreds of indigenous peoples leaders and government officials for a 10-day meet to discuss issues related to economic and social development, culture, environment, education, health and human rights.
Capuyan is vice-chair of the Mindanao indigenous alliance called Kalumaran and also heads provincial organizations Apo-Sandawa Lumadnong Panaghiusa sa Cotabato and PASAKA Southern Mindanao Lumad Confederation.
Capuyan said Kalumaran would raise to the forum the continuing human rights violations committed by the military against indigenous peoples, and would highlight the case of Talaingod Manobos from Davao del Norte. (see our stories on Talaingod here [link : Turmoil in Talaingod])
Capuyan cited particular cases such as the disruption of classes of Lumad schoolchildren and the harassment on an elder lumad woman, Ubunay Batod Manlaon, who was molested, deprived of food and forced to act as a guide for the military for nearly a week.
“These are particular cases violating the rights of indigenous children and women,” she said. “I will also include the cases of two pregnant women who gave birth during the evaucation. Of course, these cases not only occured in Talaingod, but also in other places such as in Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, North Cotabato, Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur.”
She said in her town of Arakan and neighboring Magpet, soldiers have been conducting census with the purpose of tagging indigenous and non-indigenous peopels who are suspected to have relatives joining the New People’s Army.
Capuyan said she hopes to have a dialogue with the special rapporteur on indigenous issues, Vicki Tauli-Corpus, a Filipina who will be installed as the rapporteur this year.
“We want to present these cases and hopefully she may be invited to investigate these cases,” said Capuyan. “I also hope that she would see cases of mining-related violations happening in our country,” Capuyan added, referring to the killing of anti-mining advocate Jimmy Liguyon in Bukidnon.
Special rapporteurs may only investigate cases of UN member countries through invitation of the government.
The previous special rapporteur, Rudolph Stavenhagen, visited the Philippines twice in 2002 and 2007 and reported human rights violations of the military against indigenous peoples. He also said the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA), an act proclaiming the indigenous people’s rights, has been offset by conflicitng laws such as the Mining Act.
The 13th session of United Nation Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has the theme “Principles of good governance consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: articles 3 to 6 and 46”.
Officials from the government’s National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) would be attending the forum.
But Capuyan said she expects the NCIP to proclaim their accomplishments under the IPRA such as distribution of ancestral domain titles, and may disregard the issue of human rights violations.
“The forum should not just discuss the IPRA. What we should discuss is why Lumad communities are against titling and selling their ancestral land, why they are opposed to mining, to forced recruitment to paramilitary groups. The point that indigenous peoples assert their rights should be discussed,” Capuyan said.
Capuyan said she hopes that forum may file a resolution to express concern on human rights violations and to bring these cases to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples slated in September later this year.
The World Conference on Indigenous Peoples is slated to meet at the UN General Assembly to discuss to share perspectives and practices in pursuit of indigenous peoples rights and the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.(davaotoday.com)