Phillipines: ‘Where is your title?’ asked NCIP Commissioner to protesting IPs
It seems these words are not exclusive to land-grabbers, says Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson of Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP.) Malayao referred to the words spoken by National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Chairperson Hon. Zenaida Brigida Hamada-Pawid when members of Lumad tribes in Mindanao staged protest in her office in Quezon City.
“We were taken aback by when Pawid asked if we had CADT,” said Kakay Tolentino, spokesperson of Katribu Partylist. CADT is Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title, a land title provided under the Indigenous People’s Rights Act. “It was as if it mattered if we had CADT or not for our issues to matter, and for us to be recognized as indigenous peoples,” Tolentino added.
“It is a shame that a fellow Igorot would speak these words, disesteeming the words of Igorot martyr Macliing Dulag. The value of land and the identity of indigenous peoples is not limited nor determined by mere paper,” Malayao claimed. Dulag is a Kalinga-Igorot chieftain slain by military forces amid their fight against the Chico River Dam in the 1980s. Dulag famously said, "You ask us if we own the land and mock us, saying 'Where is your title?' Such arrogance of owning the land when you shall be owned by it. How can you own that which will outlive you?"
The meat of the matter
KAMP and KATRIBU partylist picketed the agency to protest militarization in Lumad communities in Mindanao, which resulted to forced evacuations, killings, and other human rights violations to indigenous peoples. According to the groups, combat operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the communist New People’s Army (NPA) under the counter insurgency scheme Oplan Bayanihan targets civilians, especially indigenous communities.
The groups were dismayed by the NCIP's responses to the allegations of grave human rights violations done to various indigenous communities and individuals. The groups particularly decried the killing of Lumad leader Jimmy Liguyon in San Fernando, Bukidnon by members of the paramilitary group NIPAR, and the indiscriminate bombing, shelling, and other violence that caused forced evacuations of Lumad peoples in various provinces in Mindanao. To this, the NCIP responded that the tribes declare ‘peace zones’ which disallows any armed group from entering.
“Peace could not be imposed. In areas where there are attempts to dislocate communities in lieu of business interests there could be no peace. Declaring peace zones will not guarantee protection of our rights,” Malayao said.
Since March, Lumad-Mamanwa communities in Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Sur were bombarded, strafed, and shelled by military elements from the 30th and 38th IBPA and the 3rd Special Forces of the 402nd Brigade alongside paramilitary groups.
As of April 14, families composed of 1140 individuals from in four villages in Agusan del Norte and from Brgy. Ferlda in Alegria and Brgy. Camam-onan, Guigaquit, in Surigao del Norte have been staying in evacuation centers in Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Sur.
“The NCIP did not side firmly with the indigenous peoples in the matter of human rights. Instead of ensuring that our rights are protected, the agency gave us the burden of protecting or rights by declaring ‘peace zones’. These pronouncements made the NCIP utterly useless,” Malayao said. "The nonchalance of the NCIP is Noynoying--reflective of the government's attitude to people's rights."
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