The Philippine government has an obligation to take swift action in investigating the murders and human rights violations of Indigenous Peoples (IP) by paramilitary groups and resolutely disband them. These groups have robbed IP communities of their right to protest destructive economic development on their ancestral lands, without facing harassment, brutal force and death by companies wishing to silence them.
Recent examples of the cascading series of human rights violations:
On 30, June, 2011, two members of Higaonon IP organisation Linundigan were killed by members of the paramilitary group Salakawan, after a claim was made for their ancestral land by one of Salakawan’s members, Laging Binsalan. Datu Lapugotan and Solte San-ogan were fatally shot when Lapugotan’s home was attacked while the family, including his wife, four children aged one to 14 years old, and nephew San-ogan, were sleeping. In September 2009, Lapugotan’s brother Dat Mampaagi was also murdered by paramilitary groups, when he opposed the entry of mining companies in their ancestral domains.
Following the attacks, both widows of Lapugotan and Mampaagi, Mayse Belayong and Bae Adelfa, were threatened by the paramilitary groups and have had to relocate to safe houses, and find new livelihoods. Other women community members have also been forced to seek shelter from the conflict area, with men staying behind to farm. The women consequently carry the burden of establishing new homes for their families and begin rebuilding their community.
We call on President Aquino and the Philippine government, including the Commission on Human Rights, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the Department of Justice to:
- Investigate the murders of Datu Lapugotan, Solte San-ogan and Datu Mampaagi by paramilitary groups;
- Investigate the threats made against women in the community, charge those responsible and provide reparations to the survivors and the families of the victims;
- Investigate the other cases of extrajudicial killings, harassment and torture of Indigenous Peoples;
- Disband and disarm paramilitary groups in Indigenous Peoples communities;
- Uphold its commitment to international standards, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Art.32, sec.2).
We stand by the rights of the Indigenous Peoples to their ancestral domains and to their right to self-determination, and support their struggle for the integrity of their culture and traditions.
As these human rights violations continue to escalate, immediate action is necessary.
This petition is with the support of Madagway Babaeyon, a non-governmental IP organisation, a partner of AMIHAN Northern Mindanao for various campaigns for women's human rights. Madagway Babaeyon is also a member of the International Women's Alliance.
Madagway Babaeyon works for the empowerment of Lumad women in their defense of their Ancestral Domains against development aggressions that destroy their lands and consequently transgress against the very fabric of their culture which is primarily dependent on nature.