Tuesday, September 25, 2007

August 8, 2007

NCIP is facilitator of human rights violations –IPs

The tribal war rages on against development aggression and militarization. The indigenous peoples will not endure another death from their ranks: this has become a battle for survival.

These are the sentiments of the horde of indigenous people who stormed Metro Manila in commemoration of the Indigenous Peoples Week; an annual event led by the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP).

The indigenous peoples groups slammed the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) “for purporting to be pro-people and IP rights champion.”

“We have come from remote areas in the countryside to protest the worsening state of the indigenous peoples. This agency should have been answerable to the human rights violations exacted upon the indigenous peoples, but it has offered us to the wolves” Himpad Mangumalas, spokesperson on KAMP said.

According to the group, the NCIP did nothing to stop government policies that are anti-people and oppressive to the indigenous peoples. “The Mining Act of 1995 and Arroyo’s revitalized mining initiatives is fatal to us, we are forced out of our lands and kept from our livelihood. The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) only deceives my indigenous brethren that there is hope that our interests and theirs could ever coincide.” Mangumalas declares.

August 9 is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

Finding no reason to celebrate, KAMP and affiliate organizations troop to agencies they consider as the “perpetrators of massive displacement, plunder of natural resources, and human rights violations.”

“We have repeatedly asked this agency to intercede our call to cease military deployment in IP communities,” Mangumalas shares. “Human rights violations and death from our ranks emanates from it.”

The counter-insurgency Oplan Bantay Laya crushed more civilians than armed rebels, according to KAMP. They fear that the Human Security Act, which they say is the “legal version of Oplan Bantay Laya” poses threat to the indigenous peoples.

“We have been mauled, threatened, and tortured by the military,” said Nelson Mallari, Secretary General of Central Luzon Aeta Association (CLAA). “Because we won’t succumb to their accusations that we are armed guerrillas.”

KAMP is also joined by Bigkis at Lakas ng Katutubo sa Timog Katagalugan (BALATIK). The regional organization of Dumagat and Remontado tribes in Southern Tagalog went to the NCIP to appeal the construction of the Laiban Dam. “The cause of opposing the dam has taken the life of my husband, but my children and I persist,” Adeling Delos Santos, wife of slain IP leader Nicanor Delos Santos said.

The group demanded justice to the 130 indigenous peoples killed extra-judicially since the start of the Arroyo administration. “We have been taught that it all boils down to a matter of a buck,” Mangumalas said. “To the government and its agencies, no amount of life, dignity, and respect is more valuable than profit.”#

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