MANILA, 22 APRIL 2021 — In the discussion on the future work of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Chairperson Allen A. Capuyan stressed the importance of the Permanent Forum as a platform to exchange views and develop partnerships with Indigenous Peoples, especially as the pandemic and other emerging challenges have exacerbated their vulnerabilities.
Sec. Capuyan made this remark in his speech at the Twentieth Session of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), a high-level advisory body to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
He also reiterated the significance of amplifying the genuine voices of IPs in international and national fora. He asserted that it is crucial to develop programs and cooperation based on the needs and the free prior and informed consent of the IPs themselves.
Sec. Capuyan expressed hope that the Permanent Forum’s work will “always be based on credible and balanced platform, bringing about the genuine empowerment of IPs worldwide,” he said.
Sec. Capuyan reaffirmed the resolve of the Philippine government under the leadership of the President to ensure that issues related to Indigenous Peoples are IP-driven.
“Indeed, the Philippines empowers IP communities to have their voices heard in national and international fora,” Sec. Capuyan said. “This has always been the thrust of the NCIP, as the focused mechanism of the Philippine Government for the promotion and protection of the rights of the 15 million IPs in the country.” He emphasized also the role of the NCIP to represent and capacitate the IPs on the ground.
Capuyan reported to the UN Forum the initiatives taken by the government, including distributing food aid to IP households and extending livelihood assistance to IP communities towards greater self-sufficiency during the pandemic.
“Indigenous peoples, together with other socio-demographic groups at higher risk of COVID-19 infection, are also included in the priority groups for vaccination, despite limited vaccine supplies,” Sec. Capuyan said.
The UNFPII was established in 2000 to deal with Indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health, and human rights.
The Permanent Forum is one of three UN bodies and mechanisms mandated to focus specifically on Indigenous Peoples’ rights.