SIPA 2010

STATE OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES ADDRESS 2010 We, the leaders of different indigenous communities in the Philippines, including the AtaManobo, Ayta, Ayta-Mag-antsi, B’laan, Hanunuo, Hanunuo-Mangyan, Higaonon, IbaloiKalanguya, Kalanguya-Kankana-ey, Kankana-ey, Mamanwa, Mandaya, Manobo, ManuboTimamana, Mansaka, Menuvu, Menuvu-Erumanen, Menuvu-Pulangeun, Obo-Manobo, Pala’wan, Subanen, Subanon, Talaandig, Teduray, Timamana, Tagabawa, T’boli, T’boli-Ubo, at Tuali, have convened at the Hall of Peace, Apu Agbibilin Community, Barangay Songco, Lantapan, Bukidnon, from 26-28 July 2010, to make known our true state, aspirations, calls and actions. On the 26th of July, the fifteenth (15th) President of the Republic of the Philippines delivered his first State of the Nation Address (SONA). Much like his predecessors, the President’s SONA failed to accurately reflect the true state of indigenous peoples. This failure is borne out of the prevailing political and economic systems that burden and impoverish indigenous communities. The history, traditions and customs of indigenous peoples pre-existed the Republic of the Philippines. Even before the first president was proclaimed, we already enjoy a close and established relationship with our ancestral territories, our indigenous structures of governance and indigenous justice system, our sustainable of utilization of natural resources, and development of our rich culture. During the period of colonization, however, indigenous peoples were included as part of the “Republic of the Philippines” through deceit, intimidation and force. This marked the beginning and continuation of the destruction and damage to our lands, our culture and our communities -the very process that ends indigenous identity. It is because of this that the history of indigenous peoples became a history of continuing struggle for self-determination over their territories and, more importantly, over their own lives. The true state of the indigenous peoples is a state of constant struggle for land, life, dignity, livelihood, culture, peace and development. The life of indigenous communities is beset with problems inflicted by the State: problems directed at communities that include forced taking of ancestral lands, mining, logging, plantations; and problems affecting them such as militarization, counter-insurgency, graft and corruption, and a crippling foreign debt. Even programs and policies implemented by the government which, at first, seems “significant” to its citizens – such as construction of roads, legislating into law the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Act (CARL) and the National Integrated Protected System (NIPAS) Act – actually pose problems and cause damages to indigenous peoples.
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SIPA 2010

The continuous suffering of indigenous peoples and our collective struggle against the same, characterizes the present state of indigenous peoples. Whereas we used to maintain, develop and govern our lands – we now are now being subjugated, burdened and relegated to the margins.

1. The Republic and its systems destroy indigenous political structures. To-date, there remains but very few indigenous communities who maintain and exercise indigenous governance and right to self-determination over their lives and their territory. Corollary to this, indigenous beliefs and traditions have gradually withered away. These notwithstanding, indigenous peoples are not given sufficient representation within government institutions. The Republic likewise fails in its obligation to provide basic services to its indigenous citizens. 2. The government is relentless in its policy of opening the whole country to “development” projects, such as mining, logging, plantations, and dams; therefore exposing our ancestral domains to exploitation by corporations by giving them rights over our territories and natural resources to manufacture products dictated by the global market instead of allowing us to enjoy the beneficial uses of our lands for the needs of our communities. The government agencies such as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (“DENR”) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (“NCIP”), behave as if they are these corporations’ lackeys – rather than serving as protectors of the environment and advocate of indigenous peoples’ rights. 3. Development aggression projects cause great disorder and disturbance to indigenous peoples not just on forced taking of our ancestral lands but also sowing division among indigenous leaders, facilitating coerced displacement of communities, using violence to suppress any and all forms of dissent, including peaceful assemblies, extrajudicial killings of advocates for indigenous rights, against militarization and other forms of human rights violations. The state utilizes government agencies which are mandated to ensure peace and security, against indigenous peoples to protect the investment and operations of corporations. 4. It is difficult, if not impossible, to invoke the law to assert or protect our rights. The law, on the contrary, is being used to undermine our rights. The rights that are recognized by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) in our favor is nullified by the loopholes found in the very law itself, by inconsistent interpretations of government officials, by contrary provisions contained in other laws, and by the NCIP’s poor and faulty implementation of IPRA. NCIP further diluted the favorable provisions of IPRA with its issuance of the 2006 FPIC Guidelines that facilitates the process of free and prior informed consent in

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SIPA 2010

favor of corporations. Therefore despite the issuance of CADT, the security of our ancestral domains is still under threat of the entry of commercial industries. 5. We are affected by the State’s offensive against rebel groups, and oftentimes, we are caught in the middle. We share the will and desire to achieve lasting peace, but because we are not armed, we are left out of the peace process. On the contrary, we often find ourselves shocked to learn of agreements entered into by the State that affects our territories and our right to self-determination.

After hearing President Aquino’s SONA, we note his commendable policy directives against corruption, on resolving the spate of extra-judicial killings of media men and leaders of activist groups, on restoring initiatives for cease fire to allow peace talks, and his public declaration calling for the passage of the National Land Use Bill. This is a radical, but welcomed departure from the policies of the oppressive and corrupt Arroyo regime. Notwithstanding the long and protracted struggle we have bravely endured since time immemorial, the president did not mention anything new in regard to the issue of indigenous peoples. Even president Aquino’s reference to the inclusion of the indigenous peoples in the peace process in Mindanao – that Moros, Christians and Lumads need to talk and settle their differences – is far from novel. This has been repeatedly promised by previous presidents so many times over that it has been reduced to nothing more but empty words that ring hollow. We do not see even the slightest of initiative to correct the historical injustices against indigenous peoples. We have not heard the president lay down any remedy to address the problems that perpetuate our suffering. On the contrary, we fear his policies will intensify corporate and state intrusion into our territories and into our lives. There is nothing in the culture of the indigenous peoples that will provide credence to the president’s focus on “public-private partnerships,” except that it will inevitably lead to the entry of corporations into our ancestral domains. It is the height of irony for the republic to arrogate unto itself our ancestral domain as part of public domain, then subsequently surrenders possession and control over the same to corporations and other private entities. This illustrates how the state subjugates indigenous people, a policy which the Aquino administration perpetuates. His policy of expediting the application and registration processes for companies (engaged in mining and other extractive industries) is disconcerting, especially so in light of the history of atrocities perpetrated by corporations against our natural resources, and destruction of our environment and our ancestral lands, and the long list of human rights violations brought about by the entry of foreign investors.
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SIPA 2010

Despite President Aquino’s desire to drive away corruption, he is bound to fail in bringing about genuine change should he not depart from the pursuit of development that relies on the entry foreign investment at the expense of the destruction of our environment, the depletion of our natural resources, and the death of our communities. In this regard, we submit the following calls to the administration of the fifteenth (15th) president of the Republic of the Philippines in order to demand compliance from the State of its obligation to respect and protect indigenous peoples’ rights. But experience has taught us not to rely on the State, but rather on our collective actions for our right to self-determination. Respect our Right to Self-Determination The State must recognize and respect the laws of indigenous peoples, such that our customary laws ought to prevail within our territory. The entry of any and all projects into our domain must be with our free, prior and informed consent (“FPIC”); and this FPIC must be secured in accordance with our laws, customs and practices – not according to the 2006 Guidelines imposed by the NCIP, which must be abandoned. Once we have denied our FPIC to a company for a proposed project, they should not be allowed to re-apply for the same project. This, regardless of whatever policy the government may espouse. Neither may local government units (LGUs) give their consent over projects within our ancestral domains without the consent of indigenous peoples. It is unlawful for the NCIP to issue a Certificate Precondition in the absence of a resolution giving our consent to a project. We invite the Department of Justice to observe how we resolve disputes within our tribes using our traditional justice system in order for the Department may learn and understand our processes. Indigenous Peoples should equally enjoy basic services Projects that service our communities must be given priority, which include constructing farm to market roads, educating us about organic farming, and building mini-dams for the use of our communities. Ensure free basic education for all indigenous peoples, and expand the Alternative Learning System and adult literacy program for the indigenous peoples. Funds must likewise be allocated for scholarship of deserving indigenous youth to enable them to pursue higher education; to compensate indigenous teachers; and to support initiatives of the indigenous peoples to establish programs such as schools for living tradition.

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Provide sources of livelihood for indigenous peoples, especially to the rebel surrenderees and protect their family and children. With respect to health, the State must recognize and respect our traditional practices such as midwives or hilot. Further, health services must conform to our culture, and serve our welfare. Stop development aggression, militarization and acts that exacerbate climate change Immediately stop the issuance of permits and licenses for projects involving mining, plantations, dams and logging. Revoke or cause the cancellation of permits and licenses that allow such projects to operate within protected areas, sacred lands and ancestral domains. These projects are strictly prohibited insofar as they are inconsistent with our culture and practices. Permits that impact ancestral lands must thus be thoroughly researched. Aforesaid projects also contribute to aggravating climate change, which causes immense harm to indigenous communities. Hence, we cannot and we shall never allow our territory to be used for any and all carbon trading schemes, as advocated by giant corporations and states belonging to the global north. Recognize indigenous peoples’ role and contribution in protecting and caring for natural resources found within our ancestral domain. We call on the Legislature to repeal Republic Act No. 7942, otherwise known as the Mining Act of the Philippines, which continues to make our lives difficult, if not impossible. We ask that this law be abandoned in favor of a law governing our mineral resources that affirms our dominion over natural resources found within our ancestral domain, and provides effective protection and avenues for redress to affected communities should we consent to mine operations conducted in our territories. Officials of government, specifically those of the DENR, of the NCIP, and of concerned local government units, who destroy the environment and violate our rights must be apprehended and held liable. Their co-conspirators in private corporations must be equally held accountable. Respect the rights of indigenous peoples against any and all illegal apprehension, arrests, and detention. Stop intimidating, harming and/or killing IP leaders. Disallow corporations from using the Philippine Military, the Philippine National Police and private armies as security forces. The recruitment of indigenous peoples, especially minors, by armed groups should be strictly prohibited. Stop militarization in our territories.

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SIPA 2010

Respect IP Women We call on everyone to respect women’s rights, especially those against abuse, molestation and prostitution. Our indigneous women have a unique role in and make key contributions to the assertion and defense of IP rights. IP women have led against the violent and destructive desecration of our rights as a people. Violence perpetrated by military forces against IP women must stop. Review and strictly enforce the IPRA Government policies regarding indigenous peoples must be revised. Further, enforcers must implement not only the text – but the true spirit – of IPRA, especially its provisions on social justice. Ensure the appointment of IP representatives in all levels of government, in accordance with law. We remind everyone to be mindful of the fact that, within our ancestral domain, indigenous leaders are supreme over any NCIP official – not the other way around. Thus, we should be given the power to cause the removal of NCIP officials who violate our rights. NCIP officials whose appointment did not follow the correct appointment process must be removed. Further, NCIP officials and employees who committed corrupt and anomalous acts must be held accountable. Due to the continuous transfer of NCIP to different government agencies, NCIP should be attached to the Office of the President, to free the former from the influence of various vested interests. Scrap the Indigenous Peoples Master Plan drafted by the NCIP for being inimical to our rights and interests, and for not going through consultations with indigenous peoples. The Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plans Guidelines (ADSDPP) currently implemented by the NCIP must likewise be abandoned. There is a dire need to develop a new ADSDPP Guidelines and other strategies that respect and take into account our culture, traditions and customs. Further, a comprehensive and in-depth investigation must be conducted as to bogus Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title/Certificate of Ancestral Land Title (CADT/CALT). An agency that will focus on the welfare of IPs within the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) must be created.

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IPs should be accorded representation in the Peace Process The Peace talks is part of a process that should not be made exclusively between the government and rebel groups. IPs should be supported in asserting our respective peace agenda that has been shaped and formed by our experience in being included in the “Republic of the Philippines.” From these experiences shall emanate our contribution to the peace process. This has specific significance and bearing on our Lumad brothers in Mindanao. IPs should be given representation in the peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which shall commence soon. We seek an independent panel whom we can trust to assert our right to self-determination, which draws from our culture, territory and indigenous governance. This panel shall also advance the different historical agreements on the demarcation of our territories and peace agreements, such as Tampuda hu Balagen of the Talaandig tribe, Sapa and Dyandi of the Subanen, B’laan and Manobo, Sensafaan of the Teduray tribe, and Tabtaban-Mangyan, and other similar agreements. IPs should likewise be afforded the opportunity to participate in peace negotiations with the CPP-NPA and other organized armed groups. Our Commitments In the pursuit of our united struggle, we commit no less than ourselves to strengthen our ranks to advocate for our rights. We shall further assert our right to self-determination over matters that will affect our lives and our children’s future. We further commit to strengthen and develop our culture, traditions, practices and beliefs – against the infringement of corrupt and oppressive foreign investors. We shall remain vigilant against historical injustices and discrimination, and we shall not hesitate to make these known to everyone to those willing to listen; and we shall consolidate our voices to force those who refuse to listen. We shall work towards a united indigenous nation. These, we have expressed here at Balay Tulugan in Talaandig, Songco, Lantapan, Bukidnon, this 28th of July 2010.

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