Sunday, July 26, 2009

State of the Indigenous Peoples 2009

(Philippine Indigenous Peoples during SIPA 2009. Photo by LRC-KsK/FoE Phils.)

Quezon City, Philippines–As the nation awaits Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s state of the nation address, over 100 representatives from indigenous organizations and support groups from all over Luzon gathered today , bringing to the table the true state of the indigenous peoples.

“The IP voice has been absent in all previous SONAs,” said Zenaida Hamada-Pawid, an IP delegate from Baguio City. “Through this State of the Indigenous Peoples Address (SIPA) we can discuss our situation in our own words. We will then work towards consolidation of IP leadership, support groups and advocacy groups so as to forward a strong and substantial agenda.”

“Through this SIPA we want to preempt Arroyo’s attempts to paint another rosy picture full of glossy facts and figures and lists of development projects. We want people to know that it is these same projects which are responsible for the many problems indigenous communities face today, from mining to coal plants to large dams,” Ronald Gregorio of Legal Rights and Natural Reources Center-Luzon (LRC-KsK) said.

“Under the Arroyo administration, we have been witness to the intensification of militarization in IP areas. Systematic landgrabbing is happening at an alarming rate to serve the interests of mining, logging and other extractive industries,” Joan Jaime, secretary general of the Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) revealed.

From Capas, Tarlac, leaders Bayani Sumaoang and Lito Diaz from the federation Labayku (Lupon ng mga Katutubong Aeta para sa Bagong Adhikain upang Yumabong ang Kabundukan at Umunlad ang bawat isa) came in the face of a formidable issue. The delineation of their ancestral domain has currently been stalled by a boundary conflict with the Philippine Air Force’s Crow Valley military reservation.

“Gusto po sana naming makaharap ang iba pang grupong katutubo upang makakuha kami ng karanasan at inspirasyon mula sa sarili nila pakikibaka,” Manong Bayani said.
The SIPA, organized by LRC-KsK, a research and policy advocacy institution primarily working with IPs, is scheduled specifically to coincide with the Presidents’ yearly State of the Nation Address.

This year’s SIPA, with the theme “Continuing the Historical Struggle for the Right to Self-Determination” is the second, following last year, which was held in Toril, Davao. There are two regional gatherings simultaneously being held in Quezon City for the Luzon communities, and in Cagayan de Oro for the Mindanao communities.
“This SIPA is our protest to GMA’s SONA,” says Judy A. Pasimio of LRC.

“This SIPA will also serve as a common platform for indigenous peoples to forward their agenda, and for us advocates to support their struggle for self-determination.”
The SIPA 2009 (Luzon) is a 3-day activity at the University of the Philippines College of Social Welfare and Community Development (UP-CSWCD), from July 26-28, 2009.

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