Asia-based IP groups express alarm over Duterte gov’t’s alleged ‘worsening attacks’ vs indigenous peoples in PH

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File photo of IP leaders taken during a Jan. 13, 2018 ritual at the Ancestral Domain of Ovu Menuvu in Emamaling Magpet, North Cotabato. The ritual was participated by 15 tribes of Lumad in Mindanao. The ritual was organized by the leaders to seek guidance from the spirits as the tribes faced systematic attacks on their lives and ancestral domains. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Representatives of indigenous peoples organizations from various countries in Asia have expressed alarm over the alleged “worsening attacks” against IPs in the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte’s “tyrannical regime.”

In a statement signed last March 3 in Bhubaneswar, India, representatives of IP groups who attended the Feb. 28 to March 3, 2018 Asia Preparatory Meeting on UN Mechanisms and Procedures Relating to Indigenous Peoples claimed that the attacks against IPs in the Philippines come in the form of political extrajudicial killings, filing of fabricated charges against indigenous leaders and activists, forced evacuation, harassment, intimidation, illegal arrests and detention, and political repression.

“Under the regime of President Duterte, every month at least two indigenous peoples are extrajudicially killed,” the IP groups said.

According to the groups, last February 27, two Lumads from the Philippines — Kerlan Fanagel and Lorna Mora — were allegedly barred by the Philippine immigration from traveling outside the country to participate in the Asia Preparatory Meeting to talk about the issues of the Lumads and learn about UN mechanisms that might be useful in their campaign against violations to their rights to their ancestral lands and resources, and human rights.

“Kerlan was informed that he could not travel due to an active court case against him along with several other individuals. Kerlan believed that they were referring to fabricated charges that were filed against him and 14 others related to the mass evacuation and sanctuary of Lumads in Davao a few years ago,” the groups said.

They said he was able to show the immigration officers a proof that the case had already been dismissed in 2016. In February 2017, Kerlan was able to travel to Norway and share on the issues of the Lumad.

“Lorna, on the other hand, was questioned by the immigration officers who did not entertain her request for them to call and confirm with her colleagues regarding their endorsement of her travel,” the groups said.

“This event shows the continued discrimination against indigenous peoples in the Philippines and the curtailment of their basic rights, such as right to mobility and freedom of expression,” they said.

Philippine indigenous peoples organizations have also recorded at least 62 illegal arrests, 21 political prisoners, 20 incidents of forced evacuation affecting 21,966 indigenous peoples, more than a hundred people facing trumped-up charges, and forcible closure of 34 Lumad schools from July 2016 to December 2017, according to the groups.

“These are all rooted to the state’s counter-insurgency policies, state terrorism and martial law, and the development aggression in the resource-rich indigenous territories,” they said.

“In this light, we urge the Philippine government to immediately end its tyrannical rule that is putting at risk the lives of thousands of indigenous peoples, lift martial law in Mindanao, stop the All Out War in the Philippines, drop the trumped-up charges against indigenous peoples and human rights defenders, stop the plunder and exploitation of ancestral lands, and resume the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to address the roots of the armed conflict in the country.”

“We also urge the Philippine government to uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, World Conference of Indigenous Peoples Outcome Document, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law, and other international human rights agreements that the Philippine government is a signatory to,” the groups added.