From Under This Hat: Giving up faith in public information


By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO

In the past two weeks, we were told by the radio and TV newscasts that typhoons Frank, Helen, and Igme were just passing a quite-far-distance from Baguio. In the wet state Baguio is still in, people in this city know very well it is not true. They let that news story remain only a story as they face the reality of getting drenching wet, muddy, dirty, smelling the soaked garbage pile, dodging the sewage river on the road, and going home to mildew and the rank of moldy laundry. That besides worrying about wages and the seeming non-stop price hike of basic needs.

Is that the same attitude the people have towards the recent SONA (state of the nation address)? In a restaurant, somebody jeered (no one in particular) as people listened to the SONA on TV, “Mamatpati ka pay? Is-istorya na laeng dayta!” (Do you still believe that? That is just her tell-tale!)

Partnership for action, dignity

This is the theme of the Second Decade of Indigenous Peoples.

In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples shall be observed on August 9 every year during the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (Resolution 49/214 of 23 December). The date marks the day of the first meeting, in 1982, of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Sub-commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

The Assembly also proclaimed 1993 the International Year of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, and also, proclaimed the International Decade for Indigenous Peoples to start on 10 December 1994 (Resolution 48/163). The goal of the First Decade was to strengthen international cooperation for solving problems faced by indigenous people in such areas as human rights, the environment, development, education and health.

In 2004, the UN General Assembly proclaimed a Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples through Resolution 59/174. The goal of the Second Decade is to further the “strengthening of international cooperation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous peoples in such areas as culture, education, health, human rights, the environment, and social and economic development, by means of action-oriented programs and specific projects, increase technical assistance, and relevant standard-setting activities.”

In line with this, all the UN organizations and its programs are obliged to contribute or support. Like the International Labor Organization (ILO) has contributed the passing of the ILO Convention #169.

In an ILO message it stated, “In contributing to the Program of Action of this Decade, the ILO will focus on promoting Convention No. 169 as a platform for action and dialog. It will also share widely, through practical information tools, its experience in implementing the principles of the Convention.

The ILO looks forward to strengthening its partnerships with indigenous and tribal peoples – and all relevant actors towards the goal of participatory and inclusive development. As we do so, we reinforce our own capacity to support the legitimate aspirations of all peoples to live and work in dignity.”

The Baguio IP

Based in Baguio are known IP organizations, like the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and different non-government organizations (NGOs) working with indigenous peoples and the government’s National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) local office. Some of them are preparing to commemorate this international day.

On the other hand, the indigenous peoples of Baguio (to where I am counted) still have to see their leaders, both local government and non-government, truly and concretely recognize and respect their rights as IPs of Baguio. Some leaders, especially those in government, may identify themselves as IP or with the IP but that can be very different from and separate from advocating – recognizing or respecting IP rights.

Baguio IPs have, through the whole history of the city, faced court litigations, unneighbor-like relations, legal instruments used to discriminate against them as a people and as individuals, Their rights to their ancestral lands and culture is even redefined by a particular section inserted (a manipulation with impunity?) by conniving anti-IP politicians (?) in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.

The law that the national government banners internationally (and is so proud of as a compliance or contribution to the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) has a section that is read to discriminate against a particular people – the Baguio Igorot. There is also a study on an NCIP issued ancestral domain title that shows the domain excluded the specific IPs of the specific area. #(NorDis)

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