DAVAO CITY— As the country joined the global observance last August 9 during the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, an organization of tribal communities deplored the Aquino administration for having made them “sacrificial lambs” for the government’s various projects and programs.
“We are the government’s sacrificial lamb in the altar of foreign investors in mining and logging, palm oil plantations, energy projects, special economic zones, real estate and tourism projects,” said Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson of the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP).
Malayao pointed out that “President Aquino’s economic policies of deregulation, liberalization, and privatization, combined with his counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan have dispossessed and uprooted indigenous peoples from their ancestral territories in favor of profits for local and foreign big businesses.”
“More than violating our collective rights as indigenous peoples, Aquino also warranted the continued violations of our civil-political rights,” Malayao added.
The group claimed that more than 100,000 indigenous peoples from 39 tribal groups all over the country will be dislocated or will lose their livelihood as an effect of the all-out mining liberalization under Aquino.
“Even more indigenous communities will be displaced in energy, water, and plantation projects under the Public-Private Partnership program,” the group stressed. “There is an urgency for the issues of indigenous peoples to be addressed.”
Malayao blamed some of the government’s projects that resulted to the displacement of Lumads. “The construction of Kaliwa Dam, the Jalaur Dam, and the Clark Green City, will adversely affect almost 30,000 indigenous peoples.”
According to Kamp, “more than 10,000 Tumanduk and Remontado people in Rizal and Quezon will be displaced if the Kaliwa (also known as Laiban) Dam pushes through, while some 17,000 Tumanduk indigenous peoples in Calinog, Iloilo will lose their ancestral lands in the Jalaur Dam Project. Clark Green City, on the other hand, is poised to displace around 2,000 Ayta people in Capas, Tarlac.”
“These projects are long protested by indigenous peoples as it will cause displacement of their communities and the destruction of the environment,” KAMP said.
KAMP also blamed the government’s counter-insurgency operation which resulted “to forced evacuations; displacement of indigenous communities.”
Under the Aquino presidency, KAMP recorded 16 cases of forced evacuations of indigenous peoples involving an approximate of 9,754 individuals, including peasant settlers, mostly in Mindanao.
Recently, in Kapalong, Davao del Norte, Karadyawan, a local indigenous people’s organization, threatened to leave their homes and protest “if the military will not cease from using the civilians as ‘shields’, encamping in civilian populace and other public structures like schools and churches in their villages.”
KAMP blamed also the military forces and paramilitary groups for the “increasing number of extrajudicial killings of the indigenous peoples,” citing that 43 indigenous people have been slain since June 2010 including women and children.
The group attributed the escalating death toll among the indigenous peoples to the “sham” peace development program of the government Oplan Bayanihan.
“Indigenous peoples continue to be under attack as they resist massive dislocation and environmental destruction of their ancestral lands, and are targets in Aquino’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan,” Malayao said.
In Davao region, Barug Katawhan leader and a Lumad Mandaya, Cristina Morales Jose, was killed by motorcycle-riding gunmen last year’s March 4. Morales was among the leaders that led big protest actions hitting government corruption after Supertyphoon Pablo struck their province and other areas in the region in December 4, 2012.
In Davao del Norte, the latest to be killed was Wilfredo Estrebillo, a ‘habal-habal’ driver in Brgy.Mabantao in Kapalong town. According to Karadyawan, a local indigenous peoples group, Estrebillo was killed by members of the 60th and 68th IB of the AFP.
In South Cotabato, the blood of the B’laan people continues to trickle in the sprawling Tampakan Gold and Copper Project in southern Mindanao, citing the massacre of Blaan woman leader Juvy Capion and her two young sons, and other relatives of their clan.
The “latest bloodshed” in the Tampakan mine site are the Freay slays, cites KAMP.
Anting Freay, 60, and his son, Victor, 16, died from gunshots wounds when members of the AFP strafed their home in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.
According to KAMP, “Anting Freay sustained three gunshot wounds in the face, neck, and leg, while Victor Freay died from eighteen gunshot wounds, disemboweling his young body. Members of the 39th IB of the Philippine Army and Task Force Kitaco, a paramilitary unit under the Army’s 1002nd Infantry Brigade blamed for the brutal slays.”
The government has not acted on these cases, KAMP said.
Thus, the group said: “(W)e will continue to press the government to resolve the killings of the indigenous peoples and we vow to bring these perpetrators to justice.”
KAMP said it will submit “reports and documents that expounds on the land-grabbing, extrajudicial killings (EJKs), and other human rights violations committed against Philippine indigenous peoples to Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.”
The submission of documented cases against IPs will be during a National Consultation with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples held in Sulo Hotel in Quezon City this month.
“We hope that the Special Rapporteur echoes our calls and urge the Philippine government to act with urgency on the deteriorating state of the rights of indigenous peoples.”
The Philippine government has not made substantial steps to stop the violations of indigenous peoples’ civil-political and collective rights. The government itself does not uphold the rights of indigenous peoples. This is the dismal situation of the rights of indigenous peoples that we bring to the attention of the Special Rapporteur,” Malayao said.
Among its recommendations before the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, are “to recognize and uphold the rights of indigenous peoples and revoke discriminatory legislation and doctrines, and with urgency scrap the Philippine Mining Act of 1995; abandon the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan. Pull-out state forces in indigenous communities and immediately dismantle paramilitary groups and carry-out prompt and effective investigation of the human rights violations committed against indigenous peoples. Ensure that all responsible for these violations, including officers under whose command such abuse occurred be prosecuted.”
Meanwhile, Isidro Undao, Spokersperson of PASAKA in Southern Mindanao lamented that indigenous peoples continue “to suffer under the anti-poor and oppressive economic policies of the Aquino administration which leads to displacements of Lumads across the country.”
“We [indigenous peoples] never felt that we are part of this government. Our ancestors have shed their blood for our land and our rights. Unfortunately, this government that is supposed to protect and uphold our rights is the same government that are exploiting us,” Undao said.
Undao said that they will continue to resist any policies and programs that will undermine the rights of the Lumads. This as he appealed that “abuses by the military and big mining companies must be stopped.”
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, recognizes indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and their right to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and develop past, present and future manifestations of their culture in various forms.” (davaotoday.com)