From Under This Hat: The international IP day celebration


By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO

August nine is the International day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (IDWIP). The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), EED Partners Task Force on IP Rights (EED-TFIP), IP Rights Monitor, Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP), Kasapi, SilDAP, and Tebtebba Foundation, commemorated it with a conference in the UP Diliman Campus.

The IDWIP has been celebrated for the past fifteen years since its declaration by the UN in 1994. Last year it was practically a victory celebration for the indigenous populations all over because it was the year the UN Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was passed with an official vote of 143 countries (which was actually 144 when the Mauritious Islands later raised that they also had voted for it.)

This year in the Philippines, this conference has called together different parties: peoples organizations, non-government programs and government agencies that work with or on IP issues, the UN agencies in the country with facilities for IP advocacies, the representatives of the European Union, and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

The conference also and actually became a venue for the participating IPs to ventilate their issues emanating from working with, or in partnership with, or under the auspices of government agencies, church organizations, foundations and others.

One very hot and striking issue which made this venue very timely too was the tension in North Cotabato over the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on ancestral domain.

Indigenous peoples leaders from Mindanao sought the help of all IPOs, government, EU, UN agency-participants to support their call for the GRP-MILF to honor the Lumad-Moro Peace-Pact with reference to their ancestral territories.

Timuay Fernando Mudai, a traditional leader of the Subanen who said he is a 14th generation descendant of the Subanen leadership that drew the Peace-pact (Sapa) between the Lumad and Moro generations ago about their territories.

“The egg, the vine and the rattan tokens from that peace pact still exist.” He said, “if the peace-pact is broken it is like the vine is cut and then it will lose its hold on the ground.”

The participating Mindanao IP leaders “urge the Philippine government and the MILF to respect Lumad territories.”

Mudai said, “We respect the claim of the Bangsamoro over the Sultanates of Maguindanao and Jolo-Sulu, but do not include Lumad territories (in their claim). The MoA between the government and the MILF is a violation of the Sapa (peace pact) made by the Subanens’ forefathers and the Bangsamoro people to define their respective territories. “

“Such sacred covenant of our forefathers must be honored lest we face the consequences of the topu or busong (curse),” warned Mudai.

While the different IP groups support the call made by the Subanens and added also the call for both the government and the MILF to be transparent with their memoranda of agreements for it also affects other peoples and territories in the neighborhood of the Moro areas referred in these agreements.

The NCIP has however been silent on this despite it having had issued ancestral domain title certificates to IPs in the areas affected by the MoA. I wish they would explain this whole lack of communication and/or coordination to IP rights advocates that is so urgent for peoples about to lose their ancestral domains by another stroke of the pen.

As of press time, the NCIP is silent on the issue. #(NorthernDispatch)

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