PH indigenous peoples bring Aquino gov’t rights abuses to UN body

EMPTY CHAIR. The seat for the Philippine government in the 8th session of the EMRIP in Geneva, Switzerland . (Photo courtesy of Piya Macliing-Malayao/
EMPTY CHAIR. The seat for the Philippine government in the 8th session of the EMRIP in Geneva, Switzerland . (Photo courtesy of Piya Macliing-Malayao/

Katribu calls for the scrapping of Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan and the dismantling of a government commission before the United Nations Human Rights Council.


MANILA — The Filipino indigenous peoples group Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu) has brought before a United Nations body the cases of killings, attacks on schools and forced evacuation of tribal communities under the term of President Aquino.

Piya Macliing-Malayao, Katribu secretary general, said that based on international treaties and standards, the Aquino government failed to fulfill its commitment and obligation to respect the right to ancestral land and self-determination of the indigenous peoples, and to promote their genuine and effective participation in decision-making especially in all its business endeavors. She submitted the cases of human rights violations to the eight session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP).

Malayao called for the revocation of Aquino’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, the Arroyo Executive Order 546 which mandates the military as investment defense forces, and the dismantling of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

The EMRIP is a subsidiary body of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council (HRC), and advises the body on its thematic studies. The session was held in Geneva, Switzerland from July 20 to 24.

Malayao also called for a country visit to the Philippines by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (UNSRRIP) to assess the indigenous peoples situation.

She noted that the Philippine representative to the UN body was not present during her presentation.

Police harassment of ‘bakwets’

In her five-minute presentation, Malayao cited the 61 indigenous peoples killed under the Aquino administration, the use of military units and tribal paramilitary groups as investment defense forces to secure mining and logging projects, and the ensuing evacuation of communities.

Malayao told that she also mentioned the July 23 raid by 500 Davao City police on the Lumad evacuation center at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines compound, following pressure from North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco to force the evacuees home. Soldiers and members of the paramilitary group Alamara also loitered around the area during the forcible entry by police.

Other indigenous peoples groups, such as Tebtebba, the Asia Caucus, the International Indian Treaty Council, and the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, included the Philippine human rights cases in their presentations.

Malayao, along with other Filipino and Asian indigenous groups, also met with UNSRRIP and fellow Igorot Vicky Tauli Corpuz. Malayao submitted to Corpuz documents and letters of appeal of the Save Our Schools Network on the military attacks and encampment in Lumad schools in Mindanao, as well as the cases of violations of the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) committed by the NCIP in the Sabangan Hydroelectric Project and the Makilala Mining Company in Cordillera.

In the hydroelectric project in Sabangan, Mt. Province, Malayao said the NCIP did not recognize nor convened the traditional council of elders or At-atowan for the FPIC process. The company acquired a memorandum of agreement “from 10 people,” and did not consult with downstream communities who would also be affected by the project.

In Pasil, Kalinga, the NCIP and the Makilala mining company excluded a community in the FPIC, and formed a “fake council of elders,” and circulated their own resolution giving “community consent” on the project.

The UNSRRIP will come out with a joint statement with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Dr. Chaloka Beyani, who is on a country visit in the Philippines, Malayao said.

Katribu noted that the draft bill for the Bangsamoro Basic Law was a “non-recognition of the right to land self-determination of the Moro people,” as it retains power and authority on the national government.

“We await positive response from the SRRIP, as well as from the SRHRIDP,” Malayao said. “We have yet to hear from the Aquino government.” (

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