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Peace talks 'must include tribal rights'
Philippine government, communists urged to discuss plight of indigenous peopleMembers of an indigenous peopleâ€™s group stage a show for peace
- ucanews.com, Manila
- February 15, 2011
â€śIndigenous people are directly affected by the war raging in the countryside,â€ť said Piya Malayao, spokesperson of the National Federation of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines.
â€śOur lands are militarized as a result of counter-insurgency campaigns in ancestral territories,â€ť she said.
Peace negotiations between the government and the communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF) have resumed following a seven year hiatus.
Communist rebels have waged a rural-based protracted insurgency in the Philippines for 42 years.
Tribal people expect the government to take the first step in creating a favorable atmosphere in the talks, Malayao said.
â€śThe [government] has powers and resources to adopt goodwill measures to forge trust and sincerity with the NDF. They must take these steps to ensure the success of the peace process,â€ť she said.
Previous talks between the government and the rebels produced the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the Joint Agreement on Immunity Guarantees.
â€śRespect and implementation of past accords is a must. They are signs of goodwill and sincerity among the two sides,â€ť Malayao added.
She reiterated her federationâ€™s call for the immediate release of political prisoners and providing the whereabouts of missing people, including members of indigenous peoples groups.
Malayao said indigenous peoples â€śhave a major stakeâ€ť in the peace negotiations in terms of national industrialization, foreign economic and trade relations and tribal rights.
â€śWe expect that these matters will be discussed in the talks as well,â€ť she said.
â€śIndigenous communities suffer the worst from landlessness, human rights abuses and poverty,â€ť she added.
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