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CHR holds public hearings on situation of indigenous peoples

Graphic: Indigenous men, Philippines

Issues raised included entitlement to ancestral lands; access to basic social services; and threats to their culture and tradition, among others.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) held a public hearing in Iloilo City on 25-26 2017 as part of a national inquiry into the situation of indigenous peoples in the Philippines.

"We are taking account of the concerns of indigenous peoples to further promote and protect their human rights," said Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana, CHR Focal Commissioner on indigenous peoples' rights.

Joining her at the public hearing was CHR Commissioner Roberto Cadiz.

Leaders of indigenous peoples groups set out their concerns in relation to entitlement to their ancestral lands; access to basic social services; lack of roads, health centers, and school buildings in their communities; as well as threats to their culture and tradition, among others.

Commissioner Pimentel-Gana said that solutions to these issues must always be sensitive to the culture and traditions of indigenous peoples.

"Filipino din sila (they are also Filipinos). Kaya lang (but), apparently, there is discrimination in terms of implementation of laws when it comes to them."

She encouraged local governments to take a more proactive role in fully implementing the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997.

"If they are not doing their job, [we will] call their attention. We hold them accountable. We are like the guardian angels of the right holders. We have the right to demand from the duty bearers to do your job," she said.

The Commission plans to hold similar public hearings and consultations in Luzon and Mindanao throughout the year.

The National Inquiry will produce a report and recommendations to be endorsed to government agencies, which bear equal mandate to protect the welfare of indigenous peoples in the country.

This initiative is supported by the CHR-Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID) Governance in Justice (GOJUST) Project.

Date: 31 May 2017

Source: Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines


Image credits

  1. Indigenous men, Philippines - Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines