Asserting rights to ancestral land and self-determination are not acts of terrorism April 6, 2018
We, members of LOYUKAN – a formation of indigenous peoples organizations and IP rights advocates – are alarmed with the inclusion of indigenous peoples in a list of 600 names submitted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to the Manila Regional Trial Court to be declared as “terrorists”. This wreckless move of the DOJ makes the persons on the list easy military targets, regardless of the veracity of the list, and the pending court process called “proscription proceedings” – public hearing, presentation of defense and the decision of the court.
Included in the list is UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples rights Vicky Tauli-Corpuz. Ms. Corpuz has been actively supporting the advocacies of LOYUKAN particularly the full inclusion of indigenous peoples’ rights in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). There are also the names of 6 other indigenous leaders from Cordillera, 17 Manobo and Matigsalog from Southern Mindanao, 1 from CARAGA Region, 6 from Northern Mindanao. More names of indigenous peoples are being determined. But what is clear right now – those in the list are indigenous women and men who are deeply involved in the assertion of IP rights, and the defense of their ancestral domains. Some of the IPs are more active at the local level, while others have explored and engaged the international arena. Some are more vocal and articulate in their assertion, while others are more involved in quiet organizing of themselves into more active communities. Some are pushing for recognition of their rights to basic social services, and more participation in decision-making, while others are embroiled in complex, life-threatening struggle against feudal landlords, and/or multinational corporations encroaching upon their ancestral territories, and ravaging the natural resources therein.
These are all legitimate actions of indigenous leaders, and human rights defenders.
These are not acts of terrorism.
In December 2017, Datu Victor Dayan, a T’boli leader in Brgy. Datal Bonlangon in Lake Sebu was killed by the military, along with his 2 sons and 4 other members of the community. The military claimed it was an “encounter” with rebels. However, witnesses claim otherwise. LOYUKAN members have been supporting the struggle of Datu Vic and his community against the different corporations encroaching upon their ancestral land. Declaring IP leaders asserting their rights as terrorists further legitimize the continuing criminalization of their struggle.
Prejudice, discrimination, land grabbing and violence against indigenous peoples have always been part of the history of indigenous peoples. But more so is their collective struggle for their identity and their land.
We, members of LOYUKAN, are part of that struggle. They are not terrorists, as we are not.
We call on the DOJ to remove the names of Ms. Vicky Tauli-Corpuz and other indigenous peoples in the list of terrorists. There should be a public statement issued withdrawing the names, and the list altogether.
We call on the Duterte government to ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples and other human rights defenders to defend their rights are done without fear of threats, backlash and harassments.
Recognize and respect the Indigenous Peoples Right to Self-Determination. Promote the rights of human rights defenders. These are concrete steps towards a more just, humane and terror-free society.
4.6.18 LOYUKAN a formation of Indigenous Peoples Organizations, IP Rights Advocates, Human Rights Organizations pushing for the full inclusion of IP rights in the Bangsamoro Basic Law
with core members: Timuay Justice and Governance Gempa te Kelinsaan ne Kamal Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MPPM) Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights) Focus on the Global South Tebtebba Alyansa Tigil Mina Stop the War Coalition-Philippines