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Heed the Struggles of RP’s Indigenous Peoples — Legarda

August 10, 2011

AS THE WORLD CELEBRATES THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE WORLD’S INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA, CHAIR OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON CULTURAL COMMUNITIES, CALLED THE ATTENTION OF THE COUNTRY’S LEADERS ON THE STRUGGLES OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES IN THE PHILIPPINES.
“The United Nations estimates that the life expectancy of a person belonging to these communities is up to 20 years shorter than that of the general population. These communities persist to experience higher levels of maternal and infant mortality and prevalence of diseases such as tuberculosis,” Legarda said.
“Indigenous women particularly face multiple experiences of discrimination by the society, as members of indigenous communities and as women. They suffer from the introduction of mining into their communities since they were dominant in the subsistence agricultural sector. The entry of mining trucks and equipment also eroded the traditional economic roles of women in these communities,” she continued.
“Human trafficking and sexual abuse are widespread in areas where militarization and armed conflicts are present. Indigenous women have less income and less education than women and indigenous people in general. Opportunities are few, but risks to their welfare and health are great,” the Senator added.
She said this was the reason why the theme of this year’s campaign of the NCIP is “Karapatan, Kasarinlan at Kapayapaan para sa Katububong Kababaihang Pilipino.”
To help address the concerns of the IPs, Senator Legarda filed Senate Bill No. 2858 or the Ethnic Origin Act, which aims to acquire accurate and disaggregated data on the country IPs; Senate Bill No. 2831 or the Traditional Property Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, which seeks to make an inventory of all cultural properties and mandates the payment of royalties to our IPs for the use of these cultural properties.
She also said she would soon gladly accept interpellations on the proposed Anti-Ethnic or Racial Profiling and Discrimination Act of 2011, which seeks to place IPs on a level playing field when it comes to employment, education, accommodation and delivery of goods and services.
“As the nation moves forward and pursues a path of progress, policy-makers have the responsibility to recognize the special needs of approximately 17% of the population, our brothers and sisters who are members of indigenous cultural communities. Their unique situation and needs should be an important part of public discourse” Legarda stressed.
“As we scrutinize the 2012 proposed national government budget, let us use this as an opportunity to ensure that our IPs are afforded social services and are empowered to be vital and productive members of our nation,” the Senator concluded.