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Tribal groups unite against rising killings

Indigenous people face ever increasing violence

  • ucanews.com reporter, Manila
  • Philippines
  • November 13, 2012
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Indigenous peoples’ groups in the Philippines yesterday joined together to launch a new network to combat what they say is rising violence against their diverse peoples.

Named ‘Stop Killings of Indigenous Peoples’ Network’, the grouping blamed an escalation in land grabbing by mining firms, plantation owners and dam companies as a leading cause of extra-judicial killings of tribal people in the Philippines.

“The non-recognition of indigenous peoples' rights to ancestral land and to self determination and the blatant violation of their civil-political rights remain dire to this day," said Joana Jaime, coordinator of the National Federation of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines.

State forces, state-sanctioned paramilitary groups and mercenaries were typically responsible for indigenous killings, she added.

Of at least 1,206 extrajudicial killings recorded by human rights group Karapatan over the past decade, 168 are of indigenous people.

"In spite of the increasing number of indigenous peoples being killed, their descendants will continue to stand firm and fight for their rights to land, their life," said Juliet Aguilar of UCCP, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.

She added that members of the Church who support indigenous groups had also become targets in recent years. Datu Jimmy Liguyon, a Matigsalog tribe chieftain and UCCP pastor, was killed in March by a member of a paramilitary group in Mindanao after refusing entry to mining operations in his area.

Late last month, soldiers allegedly shot and killed the pregnant wife and two young children of a tribal leader, Daguil Capion, who opposed a gold and copper mine owned by Xstrata Copper and Indophil Resources NL of Australia in Mindanao.

Thirteen soldiers face court martial and may face life imprisonment if found guilty over the killings.

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