STATE OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES ADDRESS
The State of the Indigenous Address (SIPA) is a national gathering of indigenous peoples to present to the Filipino people their true state and plight, their issues and concerns, their aspirations and their struggles to protect and promote their rights as communities and as peoples.
It is held every year since 2008 in July, parallel to the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of the President of the Philippines.
SIPA is a 3 day activity participated in by some 50 indigenous leaders and representatives of indigenous communities. There are discussions on the current and emerging issues affecting them, their ancestral domains, the natural resources and the environment; sharing sessions of the different community stories of struggles and survival. An integral part of the activity is the discussion and the development of their advocacy calls, demands to the government, and their collective actions. A document called SIPA is issued by the conference, released to the media, and distributed to the policy makers, and support groups. The SIPA describes the current situation of the Indigenous Peoples – their problems and concerns. The SIPA also articulates their vision and desires and the community and collective action they are taking and plan to take to fulfill these. The political demands are also contained in the SIPA, which are addressed to the government.
Every July each year, the President of the Philippines is required by law to deliver a State of the Nation Address (SONA). With this, the President reports to the Filipino people the achievements of the administration, the developments in the country, and the program priorities for the year. The SIPA was first convened by the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) in July 2008 in Davao City, where indigenous community leaders and representatives from Luzon and Mindanao participated. It started as a gathering of indigenous peoples not only as an expression of solidarity between and among allies, but, also as a parallel activity to the SONA, to draw the administration’s attention to the plight of indigenous peoples and communities of the Philippines, and to present to the Government the agenda that they themselves developed, and then to demand that concrete and effective actions be taken to better the lives of indigenous peoples and communities. The SIPA has been held annually since (in 2009 in Cagayan de Oro City and in Quezon City; in 2010 Bukidnon; and in 2011 in Koronadal City). In 2010, a SIPA Steering Committee composed of key IP leaders and community representatives was formed. It is mandated by the assembly to represent the SIPA participants in presentations of the SIPA Document to different venues, as well as to take campaigns actions to forward the demands to the Government. The Steering Committee is also tasked to design and manage the annual gathering, if necessary. SIPA 2014 was the sixth gathering that were convened. Last year, it was held last July 23-25, 2014 at UP campus, Quezon City days before the fourth State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino.