On September 22 - 23, 2016, LRCKSK (Friends of the Earth Philippines) organized a Roundtable Discussion Series with the theme, "Indigenous Peoples and Rural Poor Communities: Asserting Rights & Self Determination Amidst Current Challenges and Opportunities" at the University Hotel in University of the Philippines Diliman. The event which was held a week before the IP Month Celebration in the Philippines, gathered over 50 representatives from LRC, partners and allies. It served as a platform for
open, critical and thought provoking discussions on issues with regard to the recognition and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and rural poor communities.
The two day event tackled two topics. The first day was on IP Rightsto Self- Determination. The second day focused on Climate Justice and climate vulnerable IP communities.Guest speakers shared the
context and the current developments of these issues to kick- start the discussions. Representatives of IP groups and rural communities,organizational allies, and guests from government agencies provided the rich exchange of ideas and discourse. Among the key takeaways from the event include the call for the improvement of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA), the review and restructuring of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the further inclusion of IP groups in national discussions on climate justice for climate vulnerable communities.
In the end, the participants express their commitment to work together and seek support from LRC to continue the collective action for self determination and for IP groups’ participation in national discussions. ZenaidaBrigida “Manang Briggs” Pawid, former commissioner of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples thanked the LRCKSK for the support it has given Indigenous Peoples,and for being one with them in their struggle for their rights and assertion for environmental justice. She said, “On behalf of IP communities, I would like to express my gratitude to LRCKSK for speaking up on issues, sharpening through to direct engagements the issues, priorities and opportunities for effective action, andbridging the discourse between the local issues and the national policy.” Norly Grace Mercado, the new LRCKSK Executive Director assured that the RTD series is the first step towards theorganization’s strategic planning process. She assured partner and allies that the agreements and discussions in the event will be considered in the formulation of LRC-KSK future activities and programs.