Friday, August 07, 2009

Filipino tribal leaders bring issue to United Nations

Filipino tribal leaders Timuay Jose Boy Anoy and Timuay Noval Lambo on a mission to defend the Subanon indigenous people.

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Today, the Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), an advocacy group and a people’s movement that upholds the rights of the present and future Filipinos against the persisting injustices related to mining, held a send-off lunch for Filipino indigenous peoples (IPs) leaders who will be leaving for Geneva, Switzerland on Saturday to participate in the United Nation’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) hearing on a complaint filed against the Philippine Government by the Subanon community.

The Filipino tribal leaders who will be going to Geneva are Timuay Jose Boy Anoy, the rightful owner of ancestral land in Mt. Canatuan - who was personally given a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) by Philippine President Gloria Arroyo - has been ejected from his own land by TVI together with his fellow Filipino tribal leaders Timuay Noval Lambo, Chief Elder of the Subanon Council of Seven Rivers in the Zamboanga Peninsula and Peter Duyapat, President of the Didipio Earth Savers Movement Association (DESAMA) belonging to the Ifugao community from Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya.

The three IP leaders are asserting that their rights to the ancestral domains have been violated, and that the actions of the Philippine government, particularly the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples have been adverse against them.

“The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) facilitated the formation of a bogus tribal council in connivance with TVI. There was no genuine free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) given to the mining operations. Our customs, traditions, and beliefs have been disrespected by no less than the government,” said Timuay Anoy.

“The government must tell the truth. We have been waiting for so long. The government’s report, which states that are no indigenous peoples’ discrimination is purely a lie as fabricated by the NCIP, through its incompetent local officials. They should be held accountable,” said Timuay Lambo.

Duyapat, whose community is impacted by an Australian mining company, OceanaGold, has been abusing the rights of the indigenous community through militarization, displacements and loss of livelihood. He will raise complaints about their community’s situation. “We strongly demand that the real spirit of IPRA should be implemented and genuine FPIC be sought,” Duyapat said.

“The World IP Day is observed on August 9 every year and there are 12 million indigenous peoples in the Philippines and the participation of the three IP leaders who will be going to Geneva will speak up, tell their stories and demand that the government should heed their call for their right to self-determination and the United Nations urge and pressure the Republic of the Philippines to address justly, without discrimination, the issues of land rights, militarization, access to justice and protection of indigenous beliefs and practices.”

“ATM will support the initiative of these IP leaders to explore and maximize international venues where they can assert their rights to pursue the protection and enrichment of their indigenous cultures,” said ATM Coordinator Jaybee Garganera.

The CERD is a body of independent experts which monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) by its State parties. The Philippine government, having ratified ICERD is obliged to regularly report to the Committee on how it is being implemented. However, the Government has failed in the required regular reporting, and its current report covers the period of 1998 to 2008.
The ATM is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations convened by HARIBON, Legal Rights and Natural Resources -Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC/FOEI) and PhilDHRRA. (Roslyn Arayata)

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