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Philippine tribal groups take evidence of abuses to UN

Land grabbing and extrajudicial killings among the allegations

Philippine tribal groups take evidence of abuses to UN

Tribal people fled their homes in Mindanao after the military launched operations against insurgents. (Photo by Vincent Go)

Joe Torres, Manila

August 8, 2014

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Philippine tribal groups submitted evidence to the United Nations on Friday to prove alleged cases of land grabbing, extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations, committed by the government against indigenous people.

Piya Macliing Malayao, chairwoman of the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines, presented reports and documents to prove their claims to Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples in the United Nations, during a national consultation in Manila on Friday.

"We are the government's sacrificial lamb on the altar of foreign investors in mining and logging, palm oil plantations, energy projects, special economic zones, real estate and tourism projects," said Malayao.

She added that there is an urgency for indigenous people's issues to be addressed amid the government's economic policies of deregulation, liberalization, privatization and a counterinsurgency program that has reportedly displaced tribal communities.

"More than violating our collective rights as indigenous peoples,  Aquino also warranted the continued violations of our civil-political rights," she said. "It is a dire time for indigenous peoples."

According to Malayao, more than 100,000 indigenous people from 39 tribal groups will be displaced or will lose their livelihood as an effect of the government's mining, energy, water and plantation projects.

Among government "priority projects" that have been objected to by indigenous groups are the Laiban Dam, the Jalaur Dam, and the Clark Green City. 

A study by the alliance shows that some 10,000 Tumanduk and Remontado tribal people in Rizal and Quezon provinces will be displaced by the construction of Laiban Dam, while some 17,000 Tumanduk indigenous people will lose their ancestral lands in the Jalaur Dam project.

Malayao also underscored the increasing number of extrajudicial killings of indigenous people. At least 43, six of them children, have been killed since June 2010 allegedly by government security forces.

"Indigenous people continue to be under attack as they resist massive dislocation and environmental destruction of their ancestral lands," Malayao said. She said tribal communities found no significant response from the government to resolve the killings.

"We hope that the UN special rapporteur echoes our calls and urge the Philippine government to act with urgency on the deteriorating state of the rights of indigenous peoples," Malayao said.

The UN rapporteur deferred comment, pending a review on the report.

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