DAVAO CITY — Indigenous people’s organizations under the Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas urged incoming President Rodrigo Duterte to uphold his promise of genuine change and defense of the indigenous people’s rights.
Piya Macliing Malayao, secretary general of Katribu said indigenous peoples’ communities have been victimized by destructive projects “such as mining and intense militarization” under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.
“With these, hundreds of Lumad remain in evacuation centers. Even during the campaign and election period, indigenous communities have been dissuaded from voting progressive partylists through harassment and intimidation campaigns by the military,” she said.
Duterte has issued a ban on mining activities in Davao due to the destructive impact it brought to the environment.
The President-elect also figured in an exchange of words with North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco regarding the issue of the evacuation of indigenous peoples at the Unite Church of Christ in the Philippines compound. Duterte told Catamco that the problem concerns “ideological” issues.
Malayao said “Duterte has a record of understanding the plight of indigenous peoples and their concerns on some specific issues.”
“However, we would like to remind him that his recent policy pronouncements regarding allowing full foreign land ownership and ‘responsible mining’ is dangerous to our communities. These have been brandished in different IP communities all over the world and have exacerbated land grabbing of ancestral domains and state terror for those who resist,” she said.
Malayao said the Aquino administration opened “almost 730,000 hectares of ancestral land to mining, monocrop plantations, economic zones, military camps and U.S. bases.”
The mining has resulted to dislocation of indigenous peoples and harassments. Malayao added that at least 90 indigenous peoples have been killed by the state armed forces since July 2010.
“Of the 90 victims of extra-judicial killings, 75 are Lumad leaders, women and children.”
Katribu said they hope Duterte would stop the practice of killing indigenous leaders who are vocal against destructive projects in their communities.
“‘We challenge president-elect Rodrigo Duterte to steer away from being the same monster that (Pres. Aquino) was. He needs to live up to his promise of ‘tunay na pagbabago’ and stand for the rights of indigenous people all over the country,” said Malayao.(davaotoday.com)