CPA Intervention on the 15th session of UNPFII

UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Fifteenth Session

9-20 May 2016, New York

 Intervention on Agenda Item 4: Implementation of the six mandated areas of the Permanent Forum with reference to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

By: Sarah Dekdeken, CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE (Philippines)

 Thank you Mister Chair for this opportunity to speak. Warm greetings everyone!

I represent the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Philippines, which has consistently participated in the Permanent Forum since its First Session in 2002, recognizing theimportant role of the Forum in advancing indigenous peoples’ rights. The Forum has allowed us to raise the issues and concernsof the Igorots and other indigenous peoples of the Philippines.We have forwarded numerous recommendations to the Permanent Forum, in line with our struggle to defend our rights to land and resources that are being robbedby the State and foreign corporations.

However, we are deeply alarmed that after 14 sessions of the Permanent Forum, and nine years since the adoption of the UNDeclaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the plight of indigenous peoples in the Philippines has turned from bad to worse. The Philippine government enacted the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act and established the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples(NCIP) supposedly to promote the rights and welfare of Philippine indigenous peoples. But these have been proven inutile in protecting our rights. In fact, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples has served as an instrument in violating IP rights. And the UNDRIP and previous recommendations of the Permanent Forum have not been implemented at all.

Instead, the Philippine government continuesits reign of terror,committingcrimes against indigenous peoples, and outrightly violating our collective rights to our ancestral lands and plunder of our resources through destructive mining and energy projects. Its counter-insurgency programOplanBayanihan has resulted inthe militarization of our communities, extrajudicial killings,development aggression and other human rights violations committed with impunityagainst indigenous peoples.UnderPresident Benigno Aquino’s administration, at least one indigenous person is killed every month, with a total of more than90 victims from July 2010 to April 2016.

To cite a few recent cases:

  • In April 2016, the Vice Chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Mr. Xavier Akien,experienced death threatsthrough surveillance by armed men, which, in our experience, often leads to extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance.
  • On April 1, 2016, in Kidapawan, Southern Philippines,the government brutally responded to thedemand for food aid by more than five thousand farmers andLumad indigenous peopleswith guns and bullets, leaving 2 farmers dead, more than 70 people wounded, and hundreds arrested.Indigenous peoples bear the brunt of climate change, while suffering the negative impacts of corporate mining, extractive industriesand government neglect of basic social services. In the past few months, El Nino has left hundreds of farmers’ families hungry, yet the Philippine government heartlessly denied them the basic human right to food.
  • In 2015, around five thousandLumad indigenous people in Mindanao fled their homes due to military operations, harassment and forced recruitment by paramilitary groups.
  • Indigenous schools run by non-government organizationscontinue to be attacked by State military forces and paramilitary groups,thereby depriving indigenous children and youth of the right to education.
  • Discrimination of indigenous peoples was again proven in the government’s denial of our participation to the Party List System in the recently concluded national elections.

These are just a few of the ethnocidal acts committed against indigenous peoples, which reflectthe worsening situationsimilarly experiencedby indigenous peoples around the world. We thus urge the Permanent Forum to take immediate and decisive steps to end the extrajudicial killing and indigenous peoples’ rights violations, and the State-driven misery faced by indigenous peoples in the Philippines.

We recommend:

  • That the Permanent Forum establish mechanisms to monitor and ensure the implementation of UNDRIP,and its recommendations at the country level.
  • That the Philippine Government take steps to respect and protectindigenous peoples’ rights to lands, resources, social and economic development, cultural integrity, education and health.
  • Thatoppressive laws, policies and programs thatdisplaceour communities, plunder our resources,destroy our environment,hinder our development,and violate our national sovereigntybe repealed/scrapped, such as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, OplanBayanihan, Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, among others.
  • Thatthe Philippine Governmentbe urged to comply with its obligations under International Humanitarian Law, the UNDRIP, and other international human rights instruments to which the Philippine government is a signatory.


Thank you for your attention.