IBALOI leader Jill Cariño who stands as executive director of the Task Force on Indigenous Peoples Rights (TFIP) relayed continuous concerns for indigenous peoples (IPs) all over the country.
During the 12th Session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Emrip) in the context of borders, migration and displacement in Geneva, Switzerland, Cariño relayed the situation on the Philippines.
“In the Philippines, 117 dams are in the pipeline under the government’s Build, Build, Build program. The Kaliwa Dam alone will displace 1,400 indigenous Dumagat families and affect more than 100,000 people. Not yet accounted for is the dislocation of thousands of families due to large-scale mining operations that are ongoing and planned in several countries in Asia including Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia and Myanmar,” Cariño said.
Cariño said indigenous peoples in many Asian countries experience similar situations of displacement, eviction and forced migration within and across borders. These are due to various historical and contemporary factors and issues.
The IP leader cited non-recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights in many Asian countries leading to displacement by dams, mining, energy projects, logging, plantations and tourism projects.
Non-recognition of forest rights and prohibition of traditional livelihoods in conservation areas such as national parks and militarization and combat operations by State military, police, paramilitary groups and private armed forces are used to quell local resistance against destructive development projects.
“As a result, wide-scale displacement and violations of our civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are committed, including criminalization of legitimate actions of the communities to defend their rights. In the Philippines, as of July 2018, 77 incidents of bakwit or forced evacuation of Lumad indigenous peoples due to militarization have displaced more than half a million (577,161) individuals,” Cariño said.
Carino said resettlement and transmigration policies of government in some countries have caused the influx of migrants into indigenous people’s territories, resulting in social conflict, discrimination and minoritization of indigenous peoples.
“Outmigration of indigenous peoples from their homelands, both within and across borders, is also significant, due to poverty, unemployment, and neglect of social services and basic infrastructure in remote areas where indigenous peoples are found. In addition, displacement due to natural and man-made calamities, such as typhoons, flooding, landslides, earthquakes, fire and demolition of houses is also significant, aggravating the vulnerability of indigenous people,” she added.
Cariño recommend steps to ensure legal recognition of indigenous peoples’ traditional land tenure and resource management systems and protect their lands, territories and resources from expropriation and exploitation without their free prior and informed consent; immediately stop state military interventions in indigenous territories such as military bases, camps, detachments and stop military operations that cause widespread displacement and human rights violations; halt resettlement and transmigration programs that discriminate against and minoritize indigenous peoples and displace them from their traditional homelands and prevent forced outmigration of indigenous peoples from their territories by providing adequate, accessible, affordable, appropriate and culturally sensitive social services and basic infrastructure to uplift the wellbeing and address the vulnerability of remote indigenous communities.