DSWD holds dialogue with IP groups; assures continued support to improve plight of minorities

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy M.Taguiwalo led the consultation dialogue with leaders of various Indigenous People's groups, such as the Lumads, Aetas, Cordillera People's Alliance, and Kasalo Caraga, among others, held at the University of the Philippines, during the Lakbayan 2016 ng Pambansang Minorya Para sa Sariling Pagpapasya at Makatarungang Kapayapaan.

During the consultation dialogue, leaders of the various minority groups expressed their common concerns and grievances which include lack of support from the previous administrations which translated into lack of basic social services, such as health, education, infrastructure, electricity, employment and livelihood opportunities.

They also aired their protest over continued exploitation and encroachment of their ancestral lands of local and foreign entities, which build dams, mining operations, plantations and other establishments in their communities, shutting out the tribal groups.

The leaders said that they travelled from Mindanao to other parts of the Philippines Para malaman ng pamahalaan at aming mga kababayan ang aming mga hinaing (So the government and our countrymen will be aware of our grievances).

Tatay Alberto, a Subanen from Zamboanga Peninsula lamented, Sa loob ng mahabang panahon nagpalit-palit na ang mga presidente, ay hindi umayos ang kalagayan ng aming kabuhayan, kalusugan at edukasyon (For a long period of time wherein presidents, administrations have changed but our lives, livelihood, health and education have not improved).

Patuloy ang pagkamkam sa aming mga lupang ninuno (There is continued grabbing of our ancestral lands), he continued.

The IPs also decried militarization of their communities.

Kami ay inaakasuhan ng military na mga NPA, ginagawang CAFGU ang iba naming mga katribu at pinag-aaway-away kami (The military accuses us of being NPAs, they organize some of our tribesmen into CAFGUs and instigate us to fight against each other), Tatay Alberto continued.

Tatay Alberto also expressed their support to President Duterte's Independent Foreign Policy.

Nais din naming mapaalis ang mga sundalong Amerikano dahil sila din ang tumutulong mag-organisa sa mga CAFGU na nagreresulta sa kaguluhan sa aming mga komunidad (We want the American soldiers to leave because they also help organize the CAFGUs resulting to chaos in our communities).

On the other hand, Tatay Danny, spokesperson of KASALO Caraga stated that outsiders dictate the prices of their products. Since they have to travel seven kilometers from their villages to the nearest town market, their products are often wilted or spoiled and they cannot command good prices.

Ang aming mga produkto katulad ng mais at saging, kadalasan ay sira na pagdating sa bayan. Kailangan namin ay maayos na daan upang mapabilis ang pagdadala namin ng aming mga produkto sa pamilihan (Our products like corn and bananas, are often spoiled when we reached town. We need good farm to market roads so we can speedily transport our products to the market), he added.

He also appealed that their children who finished schooling be given jobs.

Abuses against women and children

Meanwhile, Tatay Andres from Cordillera narrated, Napakabagal ng pagresponde ng DSWD noong nakaraang administrasyon sa mga apektado ng kalamidad sa aming lugar (During the previous administration, DSWD's response to those affected by calamities in our area was so slow).

He also enumerated the abuses of the military against women and children and for using children as spies, even desecrating their rituals and traditions.

Ang kailangan namin ay maagap na pagtugon ng DSWD at lokal na pamahalaan sa mga kaso ng pang-aabuso sa aming mga kababaihan at mga bata (What we need is

DSWD and local government's prompt response to the cases of abuse against our women and children), he emphasized.

For her part, Sec. Taguiwalo assured the minority groups of the Department's continued support.

Earlier, the Secretary and other DSWD officials and employees participated in a solidarity lunch with the tribal groups' leaders.

Patuloy naming kayong susuportahan sa inyung adhikain na magkaroon ng tunay na kaunlaran at kapayapaan (We shall continue to support your aspiration for real progress and peace).

The dialogue concluded with a solidarity pledge among the DSWD officials and employees and the minority groups.

Source: Philippine Information Agency

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