By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora September 17, 2019, 7:20 pm
‘HELP US.’ Indigenous peoples’ leaders pose in front of the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday (Sept. 16, 2019). They are seeking help from the international body to back their cause against the CPP-NPA, which they blamed for the killings and grabbing of their ancestral domains. (Contributed photo)
MANILA– Some members of the indigenous peoples’ community, together with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), faced the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday to update the body about the atrocities committed by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples’ Army (CPP-NPA) in the country.
In a report from state-run PTV, eight IP leaders sought help from the international body to support their cause against the communist armed movement in the Philippines, which they blamed for the killings and grabbing of their ancestral domains.
The presentation was made during a side event of the 42nd session of the UNHRC where UN officials and member state representatives were present.
“We need your help because, for the past 50 years, the CPP-NPA has come to our ancestral domains to steal the peace and development that we have. They destroy our families, they destroy our cultures, and they destroy the future of our next generation,” said Datu Panuliman James Binayao from the Manobo-Talaandig Tribe of Maramag, Bukidnon.
Joining Binayao in Geneva were Datu Awing Apuga of the Ata Manobo tribe, Datu Nestor Apas of Langilan Tribe, Chiary Balinan of Ata Tribe in Paquibato, Magdalina Iligan of Mananwa Tribe, Anna Jessamae Crisostomo of Ovu Manuvu Tribe, and Datu Langilan Asenad Bago and Datu Joel Dahusay of the Matigtalomo Tribe in Davao del Norte.
During the side event, Secretary Allen Capuyan, NCIP chairperson, said the government continues to support IP communities.
“The world deserves to know the truth. The Philippine government is a promoter, protector, and fulfiller of the rights of every Filipino citizen, especially its indigenous peoples’ brothers and sisters, and it does so guided by a clear normative framework on indigenous peoples rights,” he said, as he scored the “lies and deception” painted against the government.
He noted that the functioning NCIP in itself reflects government commitment to the IPs.
Meanwhile, he presented policies and programs crafted by the Philippines that seek to further protect the rights of the IP.
“The state-led indigenous people’s participation framework sustains the active involvement of indigenous peoples in government decision-making, especially in self and community development,” he said.
Last July, some IP leaders went to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City appealing for the office to launch an investigation into the attacks committed by the CPP-NPA, and urged them to help end the escalating violence fueled by the communist armed conflict in the country.
Representatives of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR) has said they are “fully committed” to look into the plea of the tribal leaders.
President Rodrigo Duterte has formed a national task force to work out a mechanism to help end the decades-old communist insurgency.
Duterte’s creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which is contained in Executive Order 70, seeks to institutionalize a “whole-of-nation approach” in attaining an inclusive and sustainable peace.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)