PRESS RELEASE | IP and Moro bring self-determination and ancestral land issues to International People’s Tribunal

Philippine indigenous peoples (IP) and the Moro people will have heard in the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) 2018 cases of violation to ancestral land and right to self-determination this week in Brussels, Belgium. Represented by their organisations KATRIBU Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KATRIBU), Suara Bangsamoro, Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and the International Indigenous People’s Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), particular cases will be heard during the IPT.

The IPT 2018 is organised in the context of the worsening situation of human rights in the Philippines under the Duterte regime. Philippine human rights group KARAPATAN (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights), has documented 126 extrajudicial killings (EJKs), 235 frustrated EJKs, 272 illegal arrests and detention, 930 illegal arrest without detention, 426,590 victims of forced evacuation, 39,623 cases of use of public places for military purposes, 362,355 incidents of indiscriminate firing from July 2016 to December 2017.

These figures do not include the unprecedented number of killings as a result of the administration’s supposed anti-drug war Tokhang now estimated to be at least 10,000. While Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Chief Superintendent Dionardo Carlos denies that there are extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration, the PNP reported that there had been 6,225 drug-related deaths between July 2016 and September 2017. Furthermore, the PNP released a report that as of April 23, 2017, 7,080 people had been reported as killed in the “War On Drugs” since July 1, 2016. The victims of this bloody campaign are largely poor people, including minors and youth.

Well-documented cases of these human rights violations have been brought to the attention of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) by several concerned Philippines-based and international civil society organizations through the Universal Periodic Review on the Philippines (UPR) process in Geneva in 2017 and the Special Procedure mechanisms. A number of national and international entities have likewise conducted fact-finding solidarity missions and have issued reports, recommendations and condemnations of the Philippine government’s inaction to stop the killings and other serious human rights violations in the country.

In the case of indigenous peoples, exercise of the right to self-determination and right to resist has been met as well with State terrorism and fascism. KATRIBU has documented 27 incidents of bombing of indigenous communities affecting at least 354,000 individuals, 47 extrajudicial killings of IP human rights defenders (IPHRDs), 58 incidents of forced evacuation affecting 400,000 individuals, and the attacks on Lumad schools in Mindanao that forced 56 schools to close and at least 2,600 indigenous youth affected. Over 100 fabricated cases are filed by the State armed forces and police against IPHRDs, including the Department of Justice (DoJ) terrorist proscription list that names some 600 individuals.

The regime´s crimes against the Moro people will also be heard in the IPT 2018, to include the Marawi siege and declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, the religious discrimination, arbitrary detention and torture committed against Suara Bangasamoro Chairperson Jerome Succor Aba by agents of US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) on April 17-19, 2018; and the massacre of seven Tausug youths on September 14, 2018 in Patikul, Sulu.

These victims of human rights violations under the US-Duterte regime are seeking justice. They have organized themselves and are working closely with various organizations in strengthening efforts to hold perpetrators to account, and it is at their behest that the IPT 2018 is being convened by the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELDH), Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), IBON International, and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP).

Victims, survivors of attacks and experts shall present concrete evidence of violations of the Filipino people’s individual and collective rights under international law. They hope to raise the awareness of the international public of the ongoing violation of peoples’ rights in the Philippines, and help generate further political pressure on the governments of the Philippines and the US to heed the calls of the Filipino people. The perpetrators will be brought for judgment before the broadest possible international audience.

The Tribunal’s verdict shall be based on a thorough and fair assessment of the evidence by a body of jurors composed of leading public figures of recognized achievement and high moral stature, in accordance with applicable legal standards. The body of evidence and verdict of the IPT 2018 shall be transmitted to the United Nations, International Criminal Court, various Parliaments and governments, as well as broad international organizations. The IPT 2018 shall serve due notice to the perpetrators of these violations that impunity shall not go unchallenged by the people.

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Beverly Longid, IPMSDL Global Coordinator, info@ipmsdl.org
Pya Malayao, KATRIBU Secretary General, katribu.phils@gmail.com

PRESS RELEASE | Police releases “terrorist list” memo targeting IP activists

International Indigenous Peoples (IP) group expresses its utmost condemnation in the recently discovered top-secret Philippine National Police (PNP) intelligence memo ordering surveillance on several IP leaders from the Cordillera, including International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) Global Coordinator Beverly Longid.

Recently this September, human rights group Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) obtained a copy of the said confidential memo dated May 28, 2018 and signed by PNP Intelligence Division OIC Alexander Rondal listing 21 names – several are IP leaders, rights advocates and activists in the Cordillera region. The memo addressed to all PNP Chiefs and Regional Intelligence Units orders them to supply a “Summary of Information” on alleged New People’s Army (NPA) ICRC (Ilocos-Cordillera Regional Committee) leaders and members.

“This is part of the systematic attacks of the Duterte government against progressive organizations critical of the government policies, land defenders, or IP communities against resource plunder. It is an institutional directive of the state that confirms our long belief of surveillance operations to monitor the movements of those they consider as “enemies of the state.” It is a desperate move to supplement the hollow and bereft of evidence DOJ Prescription case against activists. The memo further puts at threat the lives of those under surveillance by tagging them as communist armed rebels due for surveillance,” Longid said.

The confidential memo has 21 names including United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Co-convener of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development Goals Joan Carling, former Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) Chair Atty. Jose Molintas, Co-Chair of Sandugo Joanna Cariño, current CPA Chair Windel Bolinget, Regional Coordinator of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers – Cordillera Jeannete Ribaya-Cawiding, and former Secretary General of the Ilocos Human Rights Alliance-Karapatan Sherwin De Vera.

In February 2018, a DOJ Petition for Proscription to declare NPA and Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) as terrorist groups also includes the above names in the police memo.

A motion filed in Manila RTC 19 last August 31 by Atty. Pablo Sanidad II, Longid’s legal counsel, states that the case “without any basis and with pure malicious intent” is only used as an “arbitrary and malicious targeting measure to weaken the IP movement and an unacceptable attack to those who speak up to defend Human Rights.” Cases like this is considered as “travesty to the exercise of the fundamental rights and freedom,” the motion stated.

The trend reflects a global scale of IP attacks notably in developing countries like Latin America, Africa and Asia. A recent UN report underlines two reasons: “lack of respect for indigenous peoples’ collective land rights” and “failure to provide indigenous communities with secure land tenure” favoring big corporations’ mega infrastructure plans, extractive, plantation, logging and eco-tourism development projects located in IP ancestral lands.

“The IP struggles for land rights and self-determination further expose the state and its armed forces’ servitude to investors and companies by using anti-terrorism and anti-insurgency campaigns to target IP activists, silence them and endanger their lives,” Longid added.

A call for “broader and stronger unity against all forms of attacks against those who cry just demands and criticizes oppressive government policies” is echoed by the International IPMSDL.

According to Longid, “the international community must strongly denounce big businesses using state forces and policies to its favor at the extent of our community leaders’ lives. IPMSDL believe that criminalizing dissent do not silent the demands for justice of the IP movement but only fortify their struggle for the achievement of rights, lands, and justice.”

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Reference: Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator, info@ipmsdl.org

NEWS | Human Rights activist seeks removal from terror list

Krixia Subingsubing, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Taking a cue from the two UN members and two militant leaders cleared from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) proscription petition to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), its armed wing New People’s Army (NPA) and 600 individuals as terrorists, an indigenous peoples’ rights leader also asked a Manila court that she be declared as a nonparty to the petition.

On Friday, human rights activist Beverly Longid asked Regional Trial Court Branch 19 Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar to clear her from the terrorist list as she was neither an officer nor a member of the CPP-NPA.

She argued that the petition, which was filed in February, not only failed to prove her association with the Maoist rebel group, but also did not apply to her as an individual as a proscription petition can only apply to organizations, associations or group of persons as per Section 17 of the Human Security Act.

Same grounds

Her “unfounded, malicious and irresponsible” inclusion in the list, she said, posed serious threats to her life.

These were the same grounds used by fellow defendants UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, former UN member Jose Melencio Molintas, former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and peace talks consultant Rafael Baylosis.

They were among the over 600 individuals—some of whom were activists, leaders of mass organizations and former Catholic priests—named by the DOJ as alleged leaders and members of the group behind Asia’s longest-running insurgency.

The proscription petition stemmed from President Duterte’s promise to clamp down on the rebel groups following the collapse of peace negotiations between the government and the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

‘Virtual gov’t hit list’

Human rights advocates and militants alike have assailed the petition as a “virtual government hit list” meant to harass and threaten progressives and critics of the Duterte administration.

Some of the 600 names included double entries, dubious aliases and generic names—to which Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had admitted not having vetted.

In August, Malagar’s 14-page resolution cleared Corpuz, Molintas, Baylosis and Ocampo on nearly the same legal bases now being used by Longid.

Longid, a member of several local and international human rights groups, said in an interview that the proscription petition was nothing more than a harassment suit meant to target the “increased resistance” against the abuses committed against indigenous peoples.#

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Story posted in Inquirer.net on August 3, 2018.

 

PRESS RELEASE | Indigenous Groups Descend on Manila Court to Protest Terror-List

The groups gathered to press for the dismissal of a proscription list that labels indigenous leaders as “terrorist.”

International Indigenous Peoples (IP) group and several IP organizations from the Philippines marshaled at the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) on August 31 to rally for the dismissal of the Department of Justice (DOJ) proscription list that labels indigenous leaders as “terrorists.” The gathered groups also filed a motion to clear the names of indigenous leaders.

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-determination (IPMSDL) joined the protest action along with Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu), Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples Rights (TFIP), and BAI Indigenous Women’s Network. The protest was mobilized in time for the submission of a motion and court hearing for the terrorist-tagging case, which includes IPMSDL’s Global Coordinator Beverly Longid. The proscription petition filed by the DOJ, which seeks to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines–New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) a terror group, also includes 649 names of alleged CPP-NPA leaders and members. It was filed in the Manila RTC on February 21 following President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation 374 and Human Security Act (HSA) 2007.

Last August, the Manila RTC cleared the names of Satur Ocampo, Rafael Baylosis, Jose Melencio Molintas, and United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz. In the same month, the DOJ admitted in a congress budget hearing that it did not verify the 649 names, many of which are aliases and code names, as supplied by the intelligence of Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police.

“There’s an irresponsibility in the part of DOJ for just listing names of activists and tagging them as terrorists without even submitting an iota of evidence to prove that the names in the Petition for Proscription is involved with CPP and NPA,” said Attorney Pablo Sanidad II, Longid’s legal counsel.

The motion to delist the names states that the HSA 2007 may only be applied to organizations and not individuals, and that the DOJ has not given any summon or any substantial evidence. The delistment of the earlier four names were also on the same grounds as ruled by the court.

“The national and international track record of Longid and all the IP leaders included as an advocate for the recognition and promotion of IP rights and welfare clearly shows that they are not terrorist or anything that the government says they are,” Sanidad II added. “And we pray that the court stands for its duty to protect the rights of rights defenders.”

Longid said, “The state harassment and attacks on activists, human rights defenders, and IP leaders every time they step up their struggle for social change, for the protection of their lands and rights, and against destructive extractive projects and plunder of their ancestral territories shows this systematic targeting of those who rightfully criticize the government policies or corporate businesses. And given the track that President Duterte is treading, this will continue and intensify.”

Since Duterte’s presidency began in 2016, reports of political attacks, civil rights and human rights violations and abuses against IP have been documented. As of February 2018, 178 IP have been illegally arrested based on the monitoring of Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas. Cases of military, paramilitary, and police vilification of IP organizations in Cordillera, fabricated criminal charges against Lumad groups’ council members in Mindanao, forced surrenders of Dumagat IP in Quezon Province after being tortured and threatened, and many others killed and assassinated, have been filed on Commission of Human Rights and state offices.

“The increasing records of gross human rights violations under the state’s counterinsurgency Oplan Kapayapaan and extension of Martial Law in Mindanao is consistent with the global crisis involving legal maneuverings and government policies that favors big businesses and victimize IP communities,” Longid said. The criminalization of IP and land defenders opposing the transformation of ancestral lands into mono-crop plantations, mining and energy projects, and eco-tourism destination smears their reputation and makes them vulnerable targets, as in similar cases in Guatemala, Brazil, India, Columbia, and Africa.

Recently, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced that it will open more “areas of mineral reservations” to attract mining companies and pump government income. “It’s not surprising that these areas are also ancestral lands and villages of IP, and also the areas heavily concentrated with military forces and wanton records of human rights violations,” Longid added.

“But it is during these dangerous times when people’s unity and solidarity grow stronger. The people’s movement against the human rights violations of state forces and officials, and against the plunder and dispossession of ancestral lands expands and intensifies to defeat the oppressors,” she said. Several local councils and organizations have submitted petitions to delist the names in the proscription.

A “letter of concern on the increasing harassment and intimidation of indigenous peoples’ leaders and human rights defenders” was endorsed by 16 international organizations and 205 national organizations from 38 other countries from different global regions. An online petition was signed by more than 11,200 individuals from 113 countries.#

Article originally published in The Diplomat .
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Reference: Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator, info@ipmsdl.org

Chico Once More: Legacy of Resistance in Cordillera Highlands

The Rice Terraces of Banaue, Ifugao in North Philippines. Photo by Jiten Yumnam.

“When you run, gold will gather in your feet”

Traversing along the rugged, pothole filled, steep and slippery mountainous roads towards Camandag Barangay in Ifugao in mid July 2018 revealed mesmerizing landscapes of the Cordillera in North Philippines, fringed by lush forest greeneries, mystic bluish mountains and lofty clouds. The mountainous landscape and biodiversity in akin with terrains of Manipur in India’s North East. The Cordillera with 1.7 million people is blessed with opulent biodiversity and natural resources. Tribes like Bontoc, Kankanaeys collectively known as Igorot people, were able to maintain their distinctive cultures despite Spanish colonization, due to their affinity with land. “When you run in the Cordilleras, gold dust gather in your feet”, an Igorot elder exclaimed, during an interaction in Camandag village, signifying the abundance of the land. Indeed, most of gold and copper in the Philippines is extracted from the region.

“Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China”

The Cordillera region for long has been exposed to the neoliberal policies of the Philippines, leading to intrusion of multinational companies and increased financing from international financial institutions (IFIs) like Asian Development Bank, World Bank and countries like Japan and China, targeting its land and resources. Of late, the overwhelming financing from China in the Philippines including in the Cordilleras impelled considerable debate. Indeed, the Philippines government signed three loan agreements on economic and infrastructure cooperation with China during the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in November 2017. The loan agreements cover the $234.92-million New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam project and the $72.49 million for the Chico River irrigation project over Chico River in Cordillera. On 12 July, 2018, banners welcoming visitors to the Philippines as a “Province of China” were seen hanging on footbridges in Metro Manila on the second anniversary of The Hague’s ruling on 12 July 2016 invalidating China’s claim to South China Sea. The incident exposed how Philippines is being increasingly influenced economically and militarily by China and become subservient to the domination of neoliberal forces for its economic and political survival.

“Build, Build, Build”

The Philippines including the Cordillera region is subjected to massive infrastructure projects as Government reinforces it neoliberal development processes. The Philippine and Chinese Governments have signed the Peso 3.135 billion loan agreement for the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, the first flagship infrastructure project to be financed by China under the “Build, Build, Build” program. The National Irrigation Administration and China CAMC Engineering Co. Ltd. announced the signing of the P4.37 billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project in March 2018. The World Bank initially planned to find the project, but abandoned due to massive protest by Igorot people, who revered the Chico River, as “river of life” The project will displace at least 100,000 people and submerge their land.

The “Build, Build, Build” vision of the Philippines Government led to aggressive push for infrastructure projects, extractive industries, hydro power and other energy projects, targeting of indigenous peoples’ land and resources. Cordillera possesses 25% of watershed areas of the Philippines and new hydel projects are extensively planned over almost all Rivers in Ifugao, Kalinga and other provinces. The Philippines’ Renewable Energy Act of 2008, the first comprehensive legislation on renewable energy in Southeast Asia, likewise aims to increase the country’s power generation from renewable energy by three times, approximately 16,200 MW by 2030 . At least nine dams are planned over the Chico River and several of its tributaries in Kalinga. The Department of Energy (DOE) has been fast tracking approval of renewable energies, primarily hydel projects. In Camandag village, villagers’ rejected the plan for hydel project in their village, fearing it will submerge their land, forest and livelihood sources.

Developer SN Aboitiz Power-Ifugao is preparing to construct the 390 MW Alimit hydropower project in Cordillera. The SNAP Group, a joint venture of Norway’s SN Power and Aboitiz Power Corp., applied with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in March 2014 to complete the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) process stipulated under the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA), 1997. The Aguinaldo, Lagawe, Lamut and Mayoyao communities will be affected by the dam . The DoE is also planning to construct the 11 MW Tinoc II Mini Hydroelectric Power Plant project at the Tinoc River in Ifugao with the Quad River Energy Corporation, a joint venture of AC Energy Holdings Inc. and Sta. Clara Power Corporation as project proponent. In Kalinga, the DoE has approved the Renewable Energy Service Contracts (RESCs) of 15-megawatt Upper Tabuk Hydro Power Project in Sitio Saranggani of Barangay Dupag proposed over the Tanudan River. The Kalinga Hydropower, Inc. (KHI), which is the project proponent of Tanudan dam misinformed affected communities and undermined their traditional decision-making processes while also causing social division.

Geothermal Energy development is another focus of the corporate bodies and the Government of Philippines to exploit the hot springs in Cordillera. In 2010, US based Chevron entered into a joint venture with APC Group Inc., a subsidiary of SM Group, and Guidance Management Corp., to explore, develop and operate the Kalinga geothermal prospect covering 25,682 hectares. APC, that invested $300 million to set up a 100 MW geothermal plant, targets to generate 300 MW in the long run . In Kalinga, Chevron is failed to take consent of Dananao and Uma tribes. The two others, one to be put up in Mainit, Mountain Province and in Daclan, Bokod in Benguet cover approximately 76,000 hectares. In Chevron’s Kalinga project, the NCIP ignored community objections to the project, while causing social divisions and conflict. Air and chemical pollution, drying of hot springs and geysers in the surrounding area, toxic waste water entering clean aquifers due to lowering of water table, violent explosions, accidents killing workers are others concerns with such plants. Terrible noise is caused by geothermal plants during drilling and operation, often reaching above the pain threshold of 120 decibels.

Mining of minerals has long been a controversy in Cordillera with affected communities resisting mining operations. Mining companies, including Philex Mining Corp, Lepanto Mines, Benguet Corporation mined copper, silver and gold in several provinces of Cordillera. Policies on mining and other extractives, plantations, and other exploitation of land and natural resources continue to trample indigenous peoples’ rights and encroaching upon their ancestral domains. Mining destroys and contaminate indigenous peoples land and territories. Militarization and human rights violations goes along with operation of mining, setting up geothermal energy plants and in constructing dams in CAR.

There is clear cut violation of Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, 1995 in pursuit of such aggressive development. The non-recognition and violation of Indigenous peoples’ collective rights to their ancestral domain is perpetrated through regalia doctrine, forestry code, Philippines Mining Act etc. The non-recognition of IPs socio political system, manipulation of FPIC under IPRA law, institutionalized discrimination through religious, media and educational institutions also facilitated violation of IP rights.

The aggressive nature, the massive infrastructure focus, the involvement of multinational companies, the financing by IFIs in the Cordillera and militarization is much similar to the intense push for oil exploration, mining, plans to build multiple dams all over the Rivers of Manipur. The Barak River and Manipur River system are now subjected to plans to build around fifteen dams, including the 1500 MW Tipaimukh dam, the 190 MW Pabram Dam, the 66 MW Loktak Downstream Project, the 50 MW Irang dam etc. The Jubilant Energy Private Ltd, the Oil India Limited is conducting forceful surveys to drill oil and gas. Massive infrastructure projects like Trans Asian Railway and Roads are also pursued, to facilitate dam building, mining, oil exploration etc in Manipur as part of India’s Act East Policy.

 

The Igorot people of Cordilleras practiced such sustainable farming with superb land, forest & water management with their traditional practices for millennia. Photo by Jiten Yumnam.

“Full Blooded Ifugao”

The aggressive development push in Cordillera involves extensive scale of violation of indigenous peoples’ rights over their land and primarily their right to free, prior and informed consent. Villagers of Huhlukan Barangay in Ifugao complaint the real FPIC process prescribed by NCIP was not followed for proposed hydel projects as information was denied to them by Santa Clara Company for the dam proposed in Tinoc. Villagers are rather misinformed that villagers will have roads, electricity, and employment with the dam construction.

The Field Based Investigation conducted by NCIP for FPIC for dam building in Huhlukan, Binablayan led controversy and violence. Based on notification by DoE, NCIP conducted field based investigation (FBI), targeting only selected villagers of community supporting the project. In Huhlukan village, the FBI is referred to as “Full Blooded Ifugao”, indicating the threats, violence, bloodshed, associated with dam building and the FPIC process, which also involves the murder of Ricardo Mayumi for rejecting the dam and the manipulative FPIC process. Already blood have spilled in the Ifugao during the field based investigation and FPIC process for building a hydel project.

“Flatten the Hills”

Indigenous peoples’ effort for defense of their land, lives and future is often perceived as anti-development and leveled as terrorists, and often responded militarily with direct attacks. Direct military operations, such as Oplan Bayanihan, Oplan Bantay Laya, with the tacit military support of US, have led to series of human rights violations on communities in various parts of Cordillera, in Ifugao, Kalinga and Abra provinces. Military atrocities and violations have been reported in Abra and in Nalapunan, where the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) bombed civilian areas. Forest areas of Gubang and Malacato communities in Bangillo were set on fire due to bombing.

The direction of the president of Philippines in early 2017 to “flatten the hills with bombs”, have led to intensification of aerial bombing in Mindanao and in Cordillera highlands, with severe repercussions, viz, displacement, killings, destruction of environment within indigenous communities . Militarization is an entrenched reality among indigenous communities employed by the Government to counter the liberation movement of New People’s Army and to support corporate bodies to exploit the land and natural resources, like dam building in Camandag village and Halludan village in Ifugao province, gold mining, and geothermal plants in Kalinga. During military clash between the armed forces and liberation groups, civilians are harassed and villagers could not also go to their farms. Military occupation in schools is widespread and youths are subjected to search, verifications and other harassment. Soldiers also indulged in rape and sexual abuse of indigenous women. AFP personnel also forced villagers to sign papers to desist hosting NPA. The AFP officials also indulged in violations of customary laws such as forcing villagers to sell liquor in villages where liquor is prohibited. There are reports of military interference in resolving inter-tribal conflict in Kalinga province.

Similarly in Manipur, the promulgation of the infamous Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 not only derogated the fundamental right, “right to life”, but also conferred immunity to the Indian armed forces operating in Manipur to subdue indigenous self-determination but also to facilitate the plunder of land through dam building, mining, oil exploration, road and railways building with IFI financing. The pattern of perpetuation of extreme forms of violence and persisting culture of impunity is much similar.

The enchanting land & the rivers of Cordillera in North Philippines. Photo by Jiten Yumnam.

Gray-May, June-Gloom, No Sky-July

Indigenous leaders and organizations are subjected to harassment, surveillance and attacks by Philippines National Police (PNP) and AFP for defending peoples’ rights over their land. Officials of Ifugao Peoples Movement (IPM) and CPA Ifugao chapter are threatened with trumped up charges, surveillances and death threats using social media. In 2015, ten members of the IPM, including Mayumi, have received death threats using the picture of ‘Gamong’, the Ifugao fabric used for the dead with words inscribed, “Gray-May, June-Gloom, No Sky-July”. On 2 March 2018, Ricardo Mayumi, an IPM member in Tinoc, Ifugao, who also received the ‘Gamong’, was murdered in Kiangan town . Mayumi opposed the Quad River mini hydro projects in Tinoc town in Ifugao. William Bugatti was earlier gunned down after attending a court hearing on 25 March 2014. The filing of trumped up charges against seven indigenous leaders of Cordillera in early 2018, among the list of 600 activists across the Philippines, led to international condemnations. Five women were also arbitrarily arrested in July 2017.

The prevalence of culture of impunity, systematic denial of justice for human rights Violations by PNP and AFP, such as in the case of William Bugatti, is widespread. There is lack or insufficient investigation by law enforcing agencies and concerns abound this lack of investigation is on account of their involvement in these violations. Community leaders who challenged AFP and PNP in judicial processes are subjected to extra judicial execution like Ricardo Mayumi. Investigations often failed to identify and charge perpetrators. Villagers fear filing complaints for fear of reprisal. Even the investigation by Commission on Human Rights (CHR) failed to identify and prosecute perpetrators.

The NCIP and CHR etc are ineffective to address peoples’ rights. Villagers complained the NCIP’s role is more to help corporate bodies with their business, instead of supporting communities’ rights. Lawyers deputed by NCIP even denounced indigenous peoples’ rights over their land during consultations on proposed dam in Tinoc. During aerial bombing by AFP in Abra and human rights violations, the CHR only issued advisory to the warring parties, instead of efforts to stop the violations, The administrative functioning in Cordillera closely resemble a military state, with the military dictating the civilian affairs and silencing voices of dissent and call for democratic spaces, for indigenous peoples rights and justice.

Farming in Binablayan, Ifugao, Cordillera in the Philippines. Photo by Jiten Yumnam.

“This is our land, we lived here, we will die here”

Sustained people’s resistance has prevented dam building companies and mining companies from pursuing their operations and expansion in the Cordillera. The combined legal and political actions of the Bakun communities have delayed Royalco’s exploration for the Gambang Copper-Gold Project. In Benguet province, sustained community barricades have prevented Lepanto and the South African mining company Goldfields from conducting exploration drilling for the Far Southeast Gold Project. In Kalinga province, the Silages tribe opposed mining plan of Lepanto. Kalinga communities affected by hydropower projects registered their opposition to these projects, including the Karayan Dam project. The Naneng, Dallak, and Minanga tribes in their letter to NCIP in the region rejecting the project stated, “… this land is our source of our living and also where we buried our ancestors. …we are afraid that rebellion will arise and blood will be shed” . The effort to build dams is despite the presence of 200 MW Ambuklao, the 1,000 MW San Roque Dam etc. The Cordillera remains one of poorest in the Philippines despite its rich mineral resources and subsequent exploitation by the multinational companies. One has to ride on motor bikes on rugged, narrow and steep road revealing the hardship endured by villagers to avail education, health facilities and to market their agriculture produces.

The serene landscape conceals the manifestation of persisting unresolved armed conflict situation within which indigenous peoples are forced to endure for generations in Cordillera. The people however are much adamant about their rights, land, cultures, traditional and survival of their coming generations. Land is life, land is the livelihood source and they have nurtured with their sweat and blood for generations. Allowing corporations to plunder their land will affect their identity, impoverish them and destroy their future. An elder from Camandag Barangay said, “This is our land, we lived here, we will die here”, highlighting the anger and the spirit of his people to resist all forceful, destructive development process. Another elder from Binablayan said, “Younger generations need to appreciate the importance and value of land and natural resources and strive to protect it for coming generations”.

“Chico once More”

An obvious reality within indigenous peoples land is change, rooted in deepening of State’s oppressive nature, the onslaught and savagery of neoliberal forces, destroying peoples’ land, lives and their future. Across Ifugao, one could perceive realities of how the land, forest, rivers, resources and peoples’ lives are subjected to aggressive efforts for economic and political domination by State and neoliberal forces, relegating communities inhabiting the land for generations to extreme forms of oppression and violence.

However, the aggressive push for unsustainable development and deepening of the involvement of neoliberal forces, such as massive plan for hydropower generation, geothermal plants, mining with tacit support of the Philippines States and its machineries posed enormous challenge for the people of Cordillera to defend their land. The aggressive development onslaught have provoked the Indigenous peoples to recall the struggles and sacrifices of leaders in 1980s and to drew inspiration, build unity and solidarity within communities. The indigenous peoples of Kalinga and Mountain Province successfully opposed the US$ 50 million World Bank-funded Chico River Irrigation Project, also known as the Chico Dams Project, from 1976-1985. The martyrdom of Mcling Dulag in the resistance had long been a source of inspiration to resist imperialist forces and to assert their self-determination over their land.

The unfolding adverse reality is a big challenge for the present generation and leaders in Cordillera. Indigenous peoples assert that the recognition of their right to self-determination, to their ancestral lands, territories and resources, and to free, prior and informed consent, as per provisions of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007 will foster meaningful and genuine sustainable development in Cordillera. Forging and deepening solidarity among indigenous peoples is perilous to combat state oppression, offensive and militarism of imperialist forces and in asserting their self-determination and liberation. One recalls the sacrifices of Mcling Dulag while listening to deeds, spirits and efforts of Ricardo Mayumi, during the tribute in his village at Huhlukan, Binablayan. Indeed, community leaders commenced sacrificing themselves. “Chico Once More’, is already the slogan among community leaders, reflecting the resolve to continue the legacy of resistance and struggle of their leaders for their land and rights. Leaders like Mayumi already followed the footsteps of their elders, showing the light to others, with his indomitable spirits, relentless struggles and sacrifices. The legacy of resistance and the sacrifices of leaders, appreciating the sanctity of the land will continue to inspire and guide in all moments of struggles for self-determination and liberation in the Cordillera highlands and far beyond.

 

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Story written by Jiten Yumnam of the Centre for Research and Advocacy – Manipur and International IPMSDL. This article is originally posted in Imphal Free Press.

2nd Peace and Humanitarian Mission in General Nakar, Quezon

The Dumagat are the Indigenous Peoples from Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog regions of the Philippines. The Dumagat people live simple, semi-nomadic lives: they build temporary shelters and collect their food from the natural resources around them and after these sources are depleted, they move to another place while letting the resources in the previous settlement recover. This time, they are moving out of their homes, not as part of their traditional practice but because of the militarization of their communities.

Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas, a national alliance of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines and one of the member formations of the IPMSDL based in the Philippines, led a National Peace & Humanitarian Mission in the Dumagat Evacuation Site on May 24-25, 2018. See report and photos from the 1st mission here.

A 2nd mission was conducted on June 29-30 with Protect Sierra Madre and other volunteer organizations including IPMSDL to obtain updates since the 1st mission and to provide a second wave of relief for the evacuees.

On May 14, 2018, the 80th Infantry Battalion and 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army illegally arrested and tortured two Dumagats, namely Rockey Torres and Dandoy Avillanida, accusing them as members of the communist New People’s Army.

“Nung dumating sila, parang nasakal kami” (When [the soldiers] arrived, it was like we were being suffocated)

Over 600 Dumagat villagers from the upland communities of General Nakar, Quezon were forced to leave their homes and seek refuge along the nearby Umiray River. There they set up makeshift shelters made of pieces of wood, tree branches, and tarpaulin. But after some time, barangay officials asked them to leave the site claiming that the settlement has made the area unsanitary. The makeshift shelters were also burned by the officials and the soldiers to ensure that the evacuees really leave the site. 

One of the Dumagat evacuees said that their people are decreasing in number because of inaccessibility of social services such as health services. For the residents of Barangay Umiray, the nearest hospital is at least an hour of travel and their meager income is hardly enough to  cover for the medicine expenses. One of the Dumagats claimed that he is able to earn 70 pesos (approximately 1.30 USD) for 1 sack of rattan but it takes 4 days to fill a sack, including transportation on river and land.

Pushed into isolation, and far from the mainstream, Indigenous Peoples are among the marginalized sectors of the Philippines. The intrusion of military forces in the communities further aggravate their marginalized state by depriving them of their rights to ancestral land and ways of life. We at IPMSDL condemn the militarization and harassment of Indigenous communities and its members.

We urge the Philippine Government to give attention to the rights and welfare of the Indigenous Peoples in the country. Further, we hold the government and its armed forces accountable for these acts of ethnocide. Instead of providing basic social services to its people, it has invested more in its military activities that puts civilians at risks and violates their economic, social, and cultural rights 

PULL OUT MILITARY TROOPS FROM INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES!

 

Reference: Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator | info@ipmsdl.org  

Report on the Philippine Visit

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jenison Urikhimbam from Manipur, Northeast India after his visit in the Philippines in November 2017. Here, he writes about the various activities he was able to participate in during his stay in the country: the International Solidarity Conference to Resist US Imperialist-Led War and Build Just Peace organized by the the International League of People’s Struggle Asia-Pacific,  parallel activities during the East Asia/ASEAN Summits organized by various civil society and people’s organizations, and the International Interfaith Humanitarian Mission organized by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines.#

 

10th November, 2017: On the day of the arrival, I was able to attend the conference cum workshop on International Solidarity to Resist US Imperialist-Led War and Build Just Peace. People from various parts of the world had attended the program. It was the first time for me to attend a conference discussing the issues and impacts of US Imperialism. After digesting what the speakers have shared, I could further capture and understand the trend of suffering experienced by the people due to colonization and its impact. It was eye-opening for me to have been part of the discussion and I was also able to share some of the issues which we face in Manipur after the imposition of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 in the North-East Region.

 

On the 11th of November, we attended the gathering for the 100 years of the October Revolution at the University of the Philippines. Representatives from Korea, Japan, Malaysia, India, and Africa had shared about their people’s struggle and how much the people’s struggle is important to combat the colonial forces globally. It was interesting to understand the dynamics of coming in of many financial institutions.

On the 12th of November, I have attended the discussion on Militarism and Development Cooperation proving the state of conflict and fragility in Asia-Pacific. It could be learned that there is a huge presence of USA troops across the world as there are 700-800 bases and wherever there are bases present, there are always violations of people’s rights including the right to self-determination. During the presentation, it was highlighted that there are many Fillipino-Americans serving in the US Army and are well-oriented in terms of Filipino culture, tradition, and others before they are deployed. Deploying people in their own country and controlling is one of the techniques used by the USA.

During the presentation, I have further learned about Development and Militarism tools, the counter insurgency field manual to fight the global war on terror. A guide to counter insurgency is well documented and consolidated by nine US governments agencies: defense, justice, treasury, home land security, agriculture, transportation, USAID, etc. It covers all the aspects. This guide has influenced the Government of the Philippines. The concept behind was introduced under the General Petraeus, the documents presents the formula and other needs at various levels.

The Asia Pacific Research Network presented on People’s Response and Resistance vs Militarism in Asia Pacific. It gave us the picture on how the people responded to ban the bases and how the movement to ban the US troops was mobilized in the Philippines, Henoko in Japan, and in South Korea. The protest against the Military Exercises in Philippines was also highlighted, as well as the Stop War Exercises and Start Peace Talk in South Korea, and the Boycott Divest Sanction Movement to end international support to Israel, etc.

During the discussion, Iwata from Japan, Kun OO from Myanmar, Amirah from Mindanao, and Rey Asis presented issues on:

• the impact of war on women and children, the impact on health, gender-based violence, displacement, etc.
• the impact on migrant workers; migrants are the target as they are cheap labor and the rights of migrant workers are limited in many aspects; and how this leads to violence
• the impact on the indigenous peoples; their lands are targets for extraction of natural resources by the multi-national corporations; and the existing conflict between the state actors and non-state actors like the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
• control of natural resources by the military and investors wherein the cutting of forest is illegal for the public but legal for the military and businesses

On the 13th of November, it was very encouraging to see a large number of young indigenous peoples coming out the street to shout and fight for their rights during the ASEAN Summit where many so-called leaders were present to discuss about their economic ties by neglecting what the people want.

The anger and hatred towards the imperialists due to suppression and suffering for many decades were expressed during the mass mobilization in Manila. Seeing such devoted participation by the people from across the country gives the impression that the imperialists will find it hard to gain control over the people so easily.

The systematic control over the crowd and organizing such a huge number of people democratically was highly appreciated.

 


On the 15th of November, we left for Mindanao to attend the International Interfaith Humanitarian Mission. After reaching Mindanao, we have gathered at a church where the dinner was served. We were warmly welcomed by Sis. Romena Pineda, Sis. Maria Luz, Fr. John, Mr. Peter Murphy of ICHRP, Ms Amirah among others and were briefed shortly about what we will be doing in the coming days.

The next day on the 16th of November, after the breakfast, we were briefed about the background of the existing scenario. Ms. Amirah highlighted that the population of Christians is 13 Million, Moro Population is 3.7 Million, Lumad Population is 2.1 Million, ARMM is 2.4 Million. As Mindanao is rich in natural resources, many multi-national corporations are after it and many illegal mining of Nickel is going on in some part of Languyan Island, Mindanao.

As she explained, it could be learned that the issues of the Moro are part of the peace talks. The issue of Moro is the self-determination and the term ‘Moro’ is Political and fighting for justice is their reason. As the term Moro is not accepted by others, there are many people who prefer to be called Muslim. Remaining speakers had also briefed us about the area of work which they have intervened. Later after the briefing, a Press Meet was conducted to kick off the Humanitarian Mission.

The participants were divided into groups and on the same day after lunch, we headed to the assigned places. Our team headed to the Iligan City where some of the IDPs are settled.

After reaching the place, we were all accommodated in a community hall. We were warmly welcomed by the local volunteers and the affected people. Some people are assigned to distribute the food and other relief materials while the others were taking the case history from the affected people.

My team got to interact with one Ms. Aliah Maladato, aged about 32 years, from Unayan Street, Marawi. She is a house wife living with 4 children. On the 23rd May 2017, during a crossfire between the so-called ISIS and the military started, none of her family members came out of the house till the 25th of May. On the 24th May, they heard a bombing very close to their house which made them decide to leave the place. In their family, there are 3 patients suffering from stroke which made it more difficult for them to manage and leave the house.

They took the road way and water way to reach the Tamparan Province as directed by her father-in-law. While her husband and the father-in-law were in the boat, they were followed by the military helicopter and fired several rounds, fortunately they were not hit by the bullets. After reaching Tamparan, due to scarcity of food, they were compelled to leave for Iligan City where they have rented a house and her husband sold fish in the market for their survival. We also learned that her family was informed about their house getting burned through Facebook by the local police and some neighbors.

 

On 17th of November, we had another fact-finding mission at the Refugees camp near the Conflict Sites. As per the interaction we had, I observe that the military are well deployed and made sure that the civilians are chased out completely from the Marawi Area as they have never heard about the formation or intervention by ISIS in Marawi area. They have been targeted systematically one by one by evacuating the house and made sure that all the family members are out of the Marawi area as the Military had used the helicopter to observe whether the people are out of the area or not. The interesting part is the evacuated empty houses are bombarded after knowing that not a single person is inside the house and there is someone assigned to inform the family members through the social Medias that their house has been bombarded.

The most interesting part is that the refugee camps were already waiting for the IDPs, it is clear that the conflict was already predicted by the state.

On the same day after the 2nd Fact Finding Visit, all the participants of the Humanitarian Mission joined a protest demonstration calling to stop bombing Marawi, stop destroying Mindanao, and to stop war.

On the 18th of November, a press meet was held to inform the public about the fact sheets which we have collected and to declare the future course of action with the information which was collected by the Mission Team. After the press meet, we headed for Davao.

On the way to Davao, we got to interact with the Lumad Communities led by Datu Evencio and learned about the struggle they have been though since their land have been occupied by the large scale planters. They have shared about the suppression that they have gone through like the killing, burning down of houses, massacres, etc.

We spent a night at the community where we learned that the large-scale planter has taken the land on lease for 25 years, however, even after the expiry of the lease, they continued to occupy the land and never returned the land to the owners.

The head man Datu Aldong, after long struggle, recovered 600 hectares of land and started taking care of the cultivation.

It could be noted that in Manipur, the government of Manipur is trying to lease out the agricultural land to the companies, and here we learned that leasing out the land in Manipur may face the similar instance on how the Lumad Communities are facing.

On 20th of November, 2018, I left Davao for Manila and visited Baguio.

PRESS RELEASE | ECP Bishops to DoJ Secretary: do the right thing, withdraw terrorist list and continue peace talks

MEDIA RELEASE
May 18, 2018

ECP Bishops to DoJ Secretary: do the right thing, withdraw terrorist list and continue peace talks

In a statement of “deep concern” over the alleged terrorist list filed in court by the Department of Justice (DoJ), the Council of Bishops of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines (ECP) urged the DoJ Secretary to “withdraw the list if not the petition altogether” as great risk and threats of harassment looms on the individuals listed including two of the ECP’s members – International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) Global Coordinator Beverly Longid and the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.

The ECP statement was released in response to the DoJ petition filed at the Manila Regional Trial Court last February seeking to tag the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist groups under the Human Security Act of 2007. The petition includes over 600 names accused of membership in the CPP-NPA. Other than Longid and Corpuz, both known as international Indigenous Peoples (IP) rights advocates who are also Indigenous Bontok-Kankanaey from the Mountain Province, IP leaders also found in the list are Joan Carling, Atty. Jose Molintas, Windel Bolinget, Jeanette Ribaya-Cawiding, Joanna Carino, Datu Isidro Indao, Datu Mandayhon, and Datu Mampadayag.

“Due to my social involvement, I have experienced threats, harassments, and intimidation from suspected State agents,” Longid said in her personal statement. Similarly, the ECP stated that human rights advocates and ECP members accused of trumped up cases reported being subject of harassments making them vulnerable to unjust vexation – something they believe should have ended during the Martial Law years.

Attacks on IP and human rights activists is “a reaction [of the government] to [the] defense of Lumads caught in the massive military operations launched by Rodrigo Duterte” as Tauli-Corpuz pointed out in an interview. Longid also stressed, “Impunity reigns in my country, and the pronouncements and actions of Duterte show his total disregard for human rights, peoples’ welfare and interests, and rule of law, undermining our tight to speak freely and other basic freedoms.”

The ECP expressed that, instead of vilifying and putting people in great risk, the government must push for the peace talks with the National Democratic Front to prosper by addressing the ‘socio-economic issues [that] have spawned the long-drawn conflict in this land’ and put an end to ‘killing each other for another generation’. The IPMSDL reports that numerous cases of IP rights violations, killings, and attacks on culture and ways of life are the result of state military and para-military abuses carried out under the guise of counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism activities.

“The International IPMSDL organization, and I in my personal capacity, is overwhelmed by this show of solidarity to drop the DoJ terrorist list. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the whole Council,” Longid declared regarding the ECP’s statement. “At the same time, we appeal to all to echo the call to dismiss and delist the names in the DoJ petition and stand for everyone’s democratic rights for lawful dissent without fearing for their safety and security.”

Reference: Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator | info@ipmsdl.org

CLICK HERE to view the ECP Council of Bishops’ Statement.

PRESS RELEASE | International Indigenous Peoples Movement praises local councils’ resolution against PH terrorist list

MEDIA RELEASE
May 17, 2018

International Indigenous Peoples Movement
praises local councils’ resolution against PH terrorist list

“Activism is not terrorism. And with the growing support of local councils in the Philippines against the terrorist tagging by the Duterte administration, I am more than thankful for the reassurance that our fight for the rights, freedom, and justice of Indigenous Peoples are legitimate,” said International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) Global Coordinator Beverly Longid, referring to the passing of Resolution No. 27 – 2018 by the Sangguniang Bayan of the Municipality of Sagada, the Resolution No. 2018-182 by the Mountain Province Provincial Board, and the Baguio City Council Resolution No. 92.

IPMSDL commends the Municipality of Sagada’s resolution last April 16 “requesting the Department of Justice/Philippine government to drop in its terrorist tag the following persons, namely: Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Joan Carling, Beverly L. Longid, Atty. Jose Molintas, Windel Bolinget, Jeanette Ribaya-Cawiding and Joanna Cariño.” Similarly, last March 20, the Baguio City passed a resolution “urging the government to drop the ’terrorist’ tag against Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) leaders.”

“As a daughter of the Cordillera, I am glad that these councils recognized that the Department of Justice (DOJ) fabricated the terrorist list in the proscription which includes my name and my colleagues in the CPA. I have been with different internationally-recognized IP organizations and civil society movements here and abroad since the 80s. These councils know us and our passion in advocating for the respect and recognition of IP rights,” Longid, an Indigenous Bontok-Kankanaey, explained.

The DOJ petition for proscription released on February 21, 2018 listed over 600 names for alleged membership in the New People’s Army (NPA) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) -organizations which allegedly use “acts of terror to sow fear and panic to overthrow the government.”

With the recent killings and illegal arrests of human rights workers and activists, the ‘terrorist list’ merely intensifies the government’s free pass to arrest voices critical of the Duterte government, including IP and human rights defenders. Recently, Fr. Mark Ventura, a Catholic priest and an IP and anti-mining advocate was shot dead in front of children and choir members after having mass in Cagayan last April 29.

“These are dark times indeed for human rights in the Philippines. I recently became a grandmother and I would like to spend time with my family, especially my granddaughter, without fearing for our safety. That’s why I thank all institutions, organizations, and individuals in the Philippines and abroad who echo our call to drop the DOJ petition and guarantee the protection of every activists’ human rights,” ended Longid.

Click on the links to access the resolutions:

Reference: Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator | info@ipmsdl.org