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LRC distributes COVID-19 info booklets to Indigenous communities

Agta community booklet orientation, Zambales.

Living in remote places, Indigenous peoples (IP) have little to no access to information. With weak internet connection, expensive internet data, and lack of equipment, they have had to contend with what little information on COVID-19 trickles into communities.

LRC has set out to bridge this information gap by providing our partner Indigenous peoples with communications support and information materials, and by facilitating dialogues with government officials.

One such material is a booklet on COVID-19 that aims to clarify some of the myths surrounding COVID-19 and to provide basic information on the rights of Indigenous peoples amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cover of the booklet, The Rights of Indigenous Peoples Amid the Pandemic.

This booklet, produced in Tagalog, Blaan, and Dulangan Manobo languages, was distributed to our community partners in Luzon and Mindanao.

Online orientations for 54 community resource persons (CRPs) in IP communities in Barangay Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, and in the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao were conducted during the third week of April. Participants raised concerns about COVID-19 vaccines and their possible adverse effects. Many of them have not been informed about the government's vaccination program.

Booklet orientation, Nueva Vizcaya.

On the fourth week of April, CRPs reechoed the orientation to their respective communities.

In Ampatuan, Maguindanao, 140 Dulangan Manobo community members, mostly youth, attended the reecho activity in Barangay Tubak, while 60 Teduray Indigenous people in Barangay Saniag held their community learning session at their clan hall.

In Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, more than 70 Taboli-Manobo men, women and children gathered at the Bong Numa (Big Mossy Forest) Park View for their community reecho. The ecotourism site is part of the ancestral domain of the Taboli-Manobo S’daf Claimants Organization (TAMASCO).

20 Dulangan Manobo members of the Umpig Tugod clan conducted the learning session, following a religious activity, in Barangay Legodon, Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat.

Other clan leaders in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat, and Barangay Tomicor in Ampatuan, Maguindanao carried out a house-to-house rollout of the booklet after the provinces of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat were placed in a General Quarantine Status (GCQ) in May as a result of an uptick in Covid-19 cases.

Meanwhile, members of the Dumagat Remontado in Quezon said the booklet is the first written material that thoroughly discusses COVID-19 that they have received.

LRC hopes that more efforts will be pursued to clue in Indigenous peoples on critical information.

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