Preserve cultural wealth of IPs–and also their very lives

September 4, 2014

THE 3-day 2nd National Indigenous Peoples Cultural Summit ends today. It has served as a venue for leaders of different IPs to have dialogues with government agencies, civil society organizations, academe and donors to IP causes. For three days, an intercultural exchange occurred in the workshop that gave the IPs representatives a chance to discuss policy and program development, implementation and evaluation of programs for their benefit.

The 2nd National IP Cultural Summit was organized by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in partnership with Senator Loren Legarda. She chairs the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities. She gave the keynote speech on September 2.

The senator reiterated her observation that basic services remain wanting in most geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas. She also condemned the serious human rights violations, displacement from ancestral domain and the destruction of the natural environment and cultural values that have been reported.

She has filed Senate Bill No. 2209 that would create resource centers for IPs. The centers shall serve as access centers to enhance delivery of basic, social, technical and legal services.

Counter insurgency Oplan Bayanihan
One of the most serious concerns of the IPs is the Aquino administration’s Oplan Bayanihan. According to the Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP), aka the National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines, the counter-insurgency Oplan Bayanihan targets indigenous peoples directly.

In a statement KAMP released two weeks ago, it enumerated the human rights violations against IPs and Lumad leaders in Mindanao “in a span of less than three weeks” last August.

KAMP cited, among others, the case of Genasque Enriquez. On August 22, Enriquez, Secretary General of the KASALO Regional Lumad Organization in CARAGA, a council member of KAMP and the National Vice President and 2nd Nominee of the KATRIBU Party-list, was arrested in Surigao City by members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Philippine National Police (PNP) and elements of the Philippine Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion PA by virtue of an alias warrant of arrest issued against him in March 25, 2013. Enriquez was charged by the Philippine Army with three counts of frustrated murder.

Enriquez was also charged, says KAMP, with trumped-up charges of murder and frustrated murder in July 2012, which were all related to different military offensives of the New People’s Army (NPA) against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). But all these charges were dropped for lack of evidence.

Enriquez is a staunch Manobo leader from Lianga, Surigao del Sur who openly campaigned against large-scale mining operations and the militarization in CARAGA. The arrest of Genasque Enriquez was preceded by a series of military harassments of IP communities in the CARAGA region.

KAMP counts a total of 169 IP leaders and community members who have been implicated in trumped-up charges and made to experience illegal arrest and detention.

KAMP also says that on August 14, Marcel Lambon was killed by suspected members of the Special Civilian Active Auxiliary (SCAA) in Kalabugao, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon. Lambon was a Higaonon council member of the Pigyayungaan Lumad organization and actively campaigned against the environmental destruction and expansion of an oil palm plantation in Impasug-ong. In the first quarter of 2014, Lambon was repeatedly harassed and accused of being a member of the NPA.

On August 10, KAMP also reports, Datu Roger Alaki of Sitio Mintakei, Barangay Lydia in La Paz, Agusan del Sur, was extra-judicially killed by the Bagani Force (another paramilitary group) and elements of the 26th IBPA. This incident occurred after Datu Alaki’s community refused to sign a memorandum of agreement with the Malampay Mining Company. Because of threats and continued harassment, 30 families of about 160 individuals fled their community.

The murders of Datu Alaki and Lambon raised the count of documented cases of extra-judicial killings of IPs to 45 under the Aquino administration.

More details of various incidents in which no less than 10,000 IPs have suffered in Mindanao are mentioned in the KAMP statement.

“The Oplan Bayanihan,” says KAMP, “is implemented hand-in-hand with so-called development programs such as large-scale mining, dams, energy projects, economic zones and mono-crop plantations, among others, which are mostly foreign-owned and controlled in partnership with local big business elites.”

We must all help to preserve not just the cultural wealth of IPs–but also their very lives.

Source: Manila Times