In a roundtable dialogue last August 1, Commission on Human Rights Chair Purificacion Quisumbing rebuked the OSG for its opinion on ownership and self-determination. The commission has supported the adoption of the declaration.
NCIP has issued an en banc resolution, officially endorsing the adoption of the draft declaration.
Corpuz stressed that indigenous groups have the right to own the lands and resources within their ancestral domains, claiming ownership was inherent even before local and international measures supporting this came to life.
She also criticized the OSG for speculating that the MILF would use the declaration to separate Mindanao, saying the MILF has not declared itself as an indigenous group.
In a statement hailing the UN adoption, MILF said the measure would bolster the struggle of the Bangsamoro people.
For her part, Serrano said that the inter-agency committee tasked to discuss the declaration could reach a consensus by mid-September. She expressed optimism that the committee will move for a “yes” vote in time for the UN 61st General Assembly in October.
The Department of Justice (DOJ), along with the OSG, also recommended further study of the declaration which they said should be consistent with the Constitution.
72 indigenous peoples killed
In a related development, indigenous groups expressed alarm over the wave of killings against activists that victimized at least 72 indigenous peoples, according to the records of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Watch.
In their annual celebration of the Indigenous Peoples Week, groups belonging to the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP, National Federation of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines) denounced the all-out war policy of the Arroyo administration.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared in June her plan to wipe out the insurgency in the country with the release of additional funding for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) amounting to P1 billion ($19.5 million, based on an exchange rate of P51.25 per US dollar).
According to KAMP, 42 of the 72 killed were Lumads from Mindanao; 14 belonged to Dumagat/Remontado and Mangyans from Southern Tagalog; 10 were Igorots from the Cordillera; and six were Aetas from Central Luzon.
The latest victim is Alice Omengan-Claver, 42, who belonged to the Kankana-ey. She was the wife of Dr. Chandu Claver, chair of the Kalinga chapter of the party-list group Bayan Muna (People First).
Corpuz who is also executive director of indigenous center Tebtebba Foundation said that the international concern generated by the killings and abductions has put the government in a defensive position. She said that the government’s dismal human rights record tarnished its moral authority to promote human rights.
Baguio-based Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) said that an independent body should investigate the violations. Militant groups have denounced the government-led Task Force Usig which they said practically absolved the violators of the killings and abductions like Major General Jovito Palparan.
Meanwhile, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has recommended the formation of a tripartite committee to oversee the implementation of the program of the 2nd International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People from 2005 to 2015.
The program, which will also be adopted during the 61st UN General Assembly, stresses the need for a worldwide mechanism to monitor the situation of indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation and in danger of extinction. Bulatlat