Aquino Fails to Address Concerns of Indigenous Peoples

Aquino failed to initiate policy and institutional reforms needed to uplift the dismal state of the indigenous peoples – Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance

Northern Dispatch
Posted by

BAGUIO CITY–Indigenous peoples groups here are not satisfied with the performance of President Benigno Aquino III in his first 100 days.

Abigail Bengwayan-Anongos, secretary general of the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA), said no remarkable change was observed or made by Aquino on the issues affecting Indigenous Peoples (IPs).

“Malacañang has made no effort to jump start correcting the historical injustice committed against the IPs in the Cordillera and in other parts of the country,” Anongos said.

Anongos said a concrete IP agenda was forwarded to the president but he made no effort or action to address these urgent issues concerning IPs not only in the region but all over the country.

CPA with other IP groups submitted the IP Agenda to the President during the celebration of the International Day for the World’s IPs in August this year.

Anongos said among the issues IPs asked to be addressed, as stipulated in the agenda they submitted to the president, are concerns regarding their ancestral lands and the environment:
laws and state policies that grossly violate indigenous peoples’ rights such as the Mining Act of 1995, Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA), NIPAS Law, National Minerals Policy (NMP), Mining Action Plan (MAP); the State’s counter-insurgency policy Oplan Bantay Laya and the National Integrated Security Plan for Indigenous Peoples (NISP-IP); and the luke-warm implementation of international agreements on indigenous peoples rights such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The IP groups also called for a stop to extrajudicial killings (EJK), enforced disappearances (ED), widespread militarization and the blatant violations of their human rights.

They also asked for the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and for the immediate surfacing of CPA founding member James Balao and the immediate and unconditional release of the Morong 43.

Katribu Partylist, on the other hand, rated Aquino’s response to the issues and concern of IPs as poor. “Aquino’s performance is way below par,” Katribu Partylist President Beverly Longid said in a press statement.

“During Aquino’s first 100 days, he offered no significant change. President Aquino’s administration failed to address the immediate demands of the Indigenous Peoples,” Longid added. She also said Aquino failed to initiate policy and institutional reforms needed to uplift the dismal state of the indigenous peoples.

Longid said that during the last election campaign, Aquino promised to professionalize the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), review all fraudulent titles and Certificates of Free Prior and Informed Consent (CFPICs) issued, provide social services and protection of IPs rights. However, Longid explained that up to now no action was seen or initiated to fulfill these promises.

“No substantial action was done on the issue of the 139 extrajudicial killings (EJK) of indigenous people. He has not only failed to stop EJK but appears to be worse than Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” said Longid.

Longid said that within the first 30 days of the Aquino administration, three indigenous Dumagat from Montalban, Rizal were gunned down, raising the number of EJK victims among IPs from 139 to 142.

Different paramilitary groups, according to Longid, continue to wreak havoc and terror in IP communities. She said that in Mindanao, the Task Force Gantangan, Bagani Force, Bulif at Alamara continue to terrorize IPs and other communities.

Anongos said the President must not be contented with a 71 percent satisfaction rate for his first 100 days and the satisfaction rates he would be getting in the future. She said these do not correspond to the changes made on the plight of the poorest of the poor to which IPs are included.

Furthermore, Anongos reiterated that in his first 100 days major issues of human rights, justice and governance have not been answered and this she said is a major concern. “It is a major concern that under the President’s first 100 days, these issues have not been responded to, even if he says that the people are his ‘boss’ (kayo ang boss ko) under his daang matuwid.

Share This Post