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Legarda Pushes For A Comprehensive Anti–Discriminatory Law For Indigenous People

August 27, 2010

SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA, CHAIR OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON CULTURAL COMMUNITIES SAID THERE IS A NEED FOR A MORE RESPONSIVE AND COMPREHENSIVE ANTI-DISCRIMINATORY LAW FOR THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES ALL OVER THE COUNTRY.
“Our anti-discriminatory laws are scattered in different laws. This makes it hard to implement, much less to disseminate and make known to the people. We need one law that will encapsulate all aspects of discrimination, be it in the workplace, at home, in schools, and be it racial, ethnic or religion impelled. For this purpose, I filed Senate Bill 1342 and 1372, which covers all aspects of discrimination and equal protection.”
During the first hearing of the Committee, officials from the Commission on Human Rights, the Department of Justice, the National Council for Indigenous People and non-government organizations attended and discussions on the various discriminatory acts against the Indigenous Peoples were raised.
Legarda also expressed concern about the location of the estimated 14 Million Indigenous People scattered all over the country.
“How can we protect, support and provide basic services to a sector in society we don’t know where to locate?” Senator Legarda inquired.
The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) recognized the difficulty of finding disaggregated data on the exact population of Indigenous Peoples living in each province in the country. Aside from the Cordillera Administrative Region and some parts of Mindanao, the Commission admitted that it was hard to pin-point the exact number and location of indigenous communities.
“We must have this information, in order to better protect their cultural, social and economic well-being as provided in international laws, the Constitution, as well as local laws particularly the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act. It is very basic, and yet we still do not have the data on this.”
Legarda also asked for the help of all stakeholders in pursuing the ratification of ILO Convention 169 or the Tribal and Indigenous Rights Convention.
“We have the Constitution, the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as other international covenants that mandate and push for the recognition and respect of IP rights. It has been decades but we have not seen much progress. The ratification of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169 will be beneficial to the IPs/Indigenous Cultural Communities because it will give teeth to the implementation of these rights through its reportial system. We are currently in discussion with ILO, DFA and NCIP regarding what steps to take in order to pursue its ratification,” Legarda concluded.