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IP groups commemorate Int’l Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples amidst continuous attacks

International Day of the World's Indigenous People (IDWIP)

Press Release
August 9, 2023

QUEZON CITY – As we mark the International Day of the World's Indigenous People (IDWIP), KATRIBU Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas, SANDUGO - Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination, and BAI Indigenous Women’s Network stand resolute in the face of unrelenting challenges caused by continuous human rights violations against Indigenous Peoples and communities in the Philippines. While we honor rich heritage, diverse culture, and the worldwide contributions of the indigenous communities in the Philippines, it is also imperative that we acknowledge our triumph amidst relentless assaults by the state on our rights, lands, and lives.

IP groups and advocates commemorated IDWIP this year by holding a protest and solidarity event at Camp Aguinaldo to call an end to the attacks against indigenous communities. As IDWIP serves as a reminder of our collective strength and our commitment to safeguarding our ancestral domains, it also casts a spotlight on the injustices that continue to plague Indigenous Peoples. The protest was a way of celebrating the Indigenous Peoples while also raising the calls towards those at the Camp, the military. Various individuals and organizations gathered in front of the military camp to raise their banners and placards that call for the halting of bombings and militarization in indigenous communities.

The protest also featured representatives from different regional organizations that advocate for IP rights, and highlighted the recent attacks from their own communities. Our ancestral lands are under constant threat from extractive industries and development aggression brought by big foreign companies that are hand-in-hand with our own national government. These encroachments are also often coupled with militarization, which cause many to be forcibly displaced from their own land, the very land that the Indigenous Peoples continue to protect. In the worst cases, many Indigenous Peoples lose their lives in the process of defending their lands and rights, as seen in the recent human rights violations in the Philippines. The multiple bombings on our communities have caused many to fear not only for their lives, but also for the loss of their homes and livelihoods. Indigenous leaders are being red-tagged, terrorist-tagged, arrested, and killed for their unwavering determination to achieve genuine autonomy for their communities.

As part of the IDWIP celebrations, KATRIBU, SANDUGO, and BAI participated in the 2023 Tulaog festival, a gathering for the Dumagat-Remontado as a way to introduce and celebrate their sacred lands. The activity has strengthened the solidarity between Dumagat groups, especially in their struggle against the Kaliwa-Kanan-Laiban Dams. Families, national minority leaders, and rights advocates also visited Dumagat political prisoners Rocky Torres and Abelardo Avellaneda, as well as other political prisoners. Their visits in Camp Bagong Diwa and Camp Karingal was to uplift the spirits and to celebrate the IDWIP with those detained.

Our organizations also congratulate the 11 Aeta women who will be receiving their certificates and diplomas for passing the Alternative Learning System (ALS) from the Aeta Learning Center. Their graduation is a great inspiration for all, and it also serves as a reminder of our ongoing calls to make basic social services accessible for the communities as well as to put an end to attacks that cause displacement.

The IDWIP 2023 commemoration will extend until the evening of August 9 at the Fil Garcia Tower where a solidarity event will take place. The solidarity event will feature community cooking of indigenous cuisine led by Chef Lao Castillo as well as a discussion on the IP situation in the Philippines.

The commemoration of IDWIP is a continuous call for unity among all indigenous communities, advocates, and allies. We urge the government to recognize our inherent rights to self-determination, as well to hold and be held accountable for the multitude of violations against all indigenous people and communities in the Philippines. As we celebrate IDWIP, we must remember that the day is not only a testament to our heritage but also a rallying cry for justice and equality.