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De Lima urges better protection and advancement of lumads.

By Hannah Torreogza

Senator Leila de Lima has called on the Senate to probe the human rights abuses persistently committed against indigenous peoples or IPs, notably the recent spate of killings involving lumads and their community leaders.

"It is imperative to address the issues concerning the indigenous peoples in an inclusive and participatory dialogue through the process of a legislative review toward the enhancement and improvement of existing domestic legal standards and mechanisms," De Lima said in filing Senate Resolution No. 667.

The resolution seeks to introduce necessary amendments to Republic Act (RA) No. 8371, or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997, to strengthen the promotion and protection of the rights of IPs.

De Lima said it is imperative that the Philippines, as a party to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economical Social and Cultural Rights, is obligated to respect the rights of persons belonging to cultural minorities.

The senator pointed out that the 1987 Constitution in Article II, Section 22 of State Policies, provides that "the State recognizes and promotes the rights of indigenous cultural communities within the framework of national unity and development."

The existing law further acknowledges and promotes the rights and freedoms of indigenous peoples and establishes a national mechanism to uphold and protect the said rights.

Yet, De Lima said, the killing of Ati tribal leader Dexter Condez in 2013, the unresolved killings of lumads in Mindanao and Igorots of Cordillera, and violations of the legal duty of the mining companies to secure free, prior and informed consent from the affected IP communities, among others, are still happening.

"What is more disturbing is the fact that on top of these foregoing issues that directly relate to the IPs, there are recurring concerns involving disputes over ancestral domains, ancestral lands, and titles issued pertaining to the same," she said.

De Lima also said there seems to be conflicting claims between and among the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), especially on untitled lands being claimed by IPs as part of their ancestral domain.

"It is a fact that many of the mineral-rich areas of the country are found in the vicinity of the ancestral domains of the IPs," she pointed out.

"This has led to situations where IPs have been subjected to bribery, harassment, intimidation and acts of violence, in order to prevent or defuse resistance to the arrival of mining companies," she said.

She also said the Senate leadership should look into reports IPs are being forced to join paramilitary units of the government, at the risk of being branded as rebel sympathizers.


Senator Leila de Lima (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco / MANILA BULLETIN)

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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Mar 6, 2018
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