Oppose President Rodrigo Duterte Regime's Attacks on Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines

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We, the undersigned strongly condemn the recent attack on human rights defenders, activists, and political dissenters in the Philippines, through the inclusion of the names of more than 600 individuals in a Justice Department petition to proscribe the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s Government tagged as “terrorists” hundreds of individuals associated with the opposition movement including NGO representatives, peace proponents, human rights advocates, UN Personnel and Indigenous Peoples’ representatives.

In addition to the Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Prof. Jose Maria Sison, and all peace consultants of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the list also includes several high profile Indigenous leaders and human rights defenders, including:

·         Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People;

·         Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator of the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL);

·         Joanna Cariño, Sandugo Co-Chairperson of IPMSDL;

·         Windel Bolinget, Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) Chairperson; and,

·         Ten Lumad leaders in Northern and Southern Mindanao.

Since Duterte took office, thousands of extrajudicial killings have become a common occurrence, particularly for the Lumad in the Southern Part of the Philippines who continue to resist foreign mining expansion operations in the region.

In January 2017, Indigenous leader of Mamanwa tribe and environmental rights activist Veronico “Nico” Delamente of Claver, Surigao del Norte, a mining town, was gunned down by gunmen riding a motorcycle.  Delamente was as an outspoken critic of the nickel mining corporations in this region.  On December 3rd 2017, government troops killed 8 Indigenous People at Lake Sebu in Mindanao. This part of Mindanao is where approximately 140 Lumad farming families had the opportunity to reclaim their 300 hectares of ancestral lands from a coffee plantation named David M. Consuji Inc.  However, in order to intimidate the Lumads, a coercive joint team of soldiers and marines entered into the farm of T’boli and Dulangan Manobo and shots were fired - killing eight people and injuring two others in total. 

Moreover, since April 2017, the island of Mindanao has been under Martial Law, extended for another year in December 2017, supposedly to deal with the Islamic insurgency around Marawi, the capital city of Lanao del Sur.  The Philippine Military has now deployed 76% of its military forces in Mindanao; into the heartland of the Lumad where towns and barrios are under military lock-down.  It is feared that the one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao will lead to a further increase in human rights violations. Even the United Nations has warned of massive Human Rights abuses in Mindanao.  According to Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, the UN Human Rights Council's special rapporteurs on the rights of indigenous peoples and internally displaced people, militarization has “displaced thousands of the Lumad people and some have been killed.”

            Human rights atrocities are not a new issue in the Philippines where previous administrations have perpetrated similar human rights violations. Between 2010-2015 under the previous Aquino administration, a total of 71 indigenous leaders were killed.  In addition, there were 95 cases of attacks against the 87 alternative schools for indigenous children.  The military and para-military groups forced more than 40,000 indigenous peoples into evacuation center, who were displaced with no adequate social support from the Government.

These systematic attacks directed at Indigenous Peoples, leaders, schools, and communities aim to neutralize the indigenous leadership and weaken community solidarity.  The staging and orchestration of terror is deliberate and premeditated in order to force indigenous communities away from their ancestral lands.  Much of the land occupied by the Indigenous Peoples is rich in natural resources where the government wants to create a more favorable business climate for domestic and multinational mining operations at the expense of the Lumad. 

At a recent summit with Indigenous Peoples (February 1st 2018) Rodrigo Duterte reiterated the purpose of the ongoing military occupation and indicated that he would be selecting investors for their Ancestral lands, and that the Lumad should prepare for relocation and welcome the military into their homes.  Such threats made by the President, continued Martial Law in Mindanao, and tagging of Indigenous rights activist as "terrorists" will lead to a further increase in human rights violations, particularly, against the Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines.  

In this context, we the undersigned call on the Philippine government to end its attacks on Lumad communities. 

Stop the killings of Lumad leaders and activists.

Stop the occupation of Lumad Schools and communities by the Philippine Military and Para-militaries.

Stop Development Aggression in Lumad Communities.

End Martial Law in Mindanao.

Reverse the Terrorist Listing of Indigenous and other Civil Society Leaders.