IPs displacement not due to militarization: NCIP chief

MANILA � Reports claiming that militarization is the top reason for the displacement of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in the Southern Philippines are not true.

This, according to National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) chairperson, Secretary Allen Capuyan, during Wednesday's Clustered Interactive Dialogue with SR on Rights of IP and Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), held during the ongoing 42nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland.

"EMRIP's study attributed the displacement of indigenous peoples in southern Philippines to the alleged militarization of indigenous territories. The reality on the ground is more complex, and in fact different, than this," he said in his speech.

Capuyan referred to the countless cases of illegal occupation of ancestral domains and the systematic abuse and exploitation of indigenous peoples by terrorist group Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA and its front organizations, leading to enforced displacement.

The Philippine government, he said, is doing all it can to bring the perpetrators to justice and end these atrocities once and for all.

"The government is fully conscious of its social contract with the indigenous peoples and is unwavering in its resolve to ensure justice and remedies for the victims, hold perpetrators to account, and to end the atrocities committed by these non-state actors against our indigenous peoples," said Capuyan, who is also from the Manobo Tribe of Agusan del Sur

Capuyan requested UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, to share best legal practices, from other parts of the world, in ensuring accountability for individuals or groups behind such atrocities like the killing of IP leaders, members and use of child warriors, among others.

"In this regard, we request the Special Rapporteur to share best practices from other regions, within the framework of national laws as well as customary laws, on ensuring accountability for atrocities and grave violations of human rights of the indigenous peoples that are perpetrated and committed by non-state actors, such as killings of thousands of traditional IP leaders, setting up of kangaroo courts, ordering the killings of family members and relatives, use of child warriors, and accessing of funds from abroad to finance alleged schools but which in reality are used for the armed struggle," he said.

Protection of IPs, a PH gov't priority

Capuyan said the Philippine government considers the protection of the IPs as a priority and maintains its support for the mandates on their rights, and expert mechanism.

"We note that the reports of the Special Rapporteur and the Expert Mechanism recognize the comprehensive guarantees provided by our landmark Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (or IPRA), which served as the model for the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples adopted 10 years later," he added.

He also cited the study of EMRIP on migration and displacement, and support recommendations in addressing vulnerabilities of IPs.

"The government continues to delineate ancestral domains, confirms indigenous political structure, set up ancestral domain development and sustainable plan and protection, install the indigenous peoples' mandatory representation in the local governance, and strictly implement the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) process when developments and projects are introduced," Capuyan said. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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