*The Cordillera Peoples Alliance is a member of the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) or national federation of indigenous peoples in the Philippines.
NEW YORK – Indigenous peoples from the Philippines joined other Filipinos in shouting “no justice, no peace” as the Philippine Government’s delegation headed by the Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino, III.
Accented by their traditional garbs, the indigenous peoples from Igorot and Lumad tribes under Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) staged a rally in front of the Columbia University in New York. The indigenous peoples expressed their anger over the President’s ‘ineptness and criminal negligence’ in the relief and rehabilitation efforts over typhoon Haiyan, his accountability on the issue of corruption in the pork barrel system including the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Fund, and on the ‘unabated extra-judicial killings and culture of impunity’ in the Philippines.
The President is on a four-day visit to the United States for personal and official reasons. Aquino attended the Climate Forum in the United Nations and to speak on the Philippines perspective on “Pursuing the track to peace and progress in Asia” in the Columbia University.
The indigenous peoples from the Philippines from KAMP and Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and the Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (KALUMARAN) flew to New York to attend the People’s Climate March last September 21 in New York City. They also attended the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples, a high-level plenary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly last September 22-23 in to represent the indigenous peoples in the Philippines. The indigenous peoples also held parallel activities in New York to expose the situations and issues of indigenous peoples in the Philippines.
“He has absolutely no right to speak of peace and progress while the survivors of Haiyan continue to suffer from sub-human conditions in evacuation centers. Ten thousand people are estimated to have died in the calamity, we still demand for justice in this calamity of a President,” Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson of KAMP said.
“Almost a year after the super typhoon Haiyan hit the Central Philippines, the victims especially the rural communities have not recovered and continue to suffer due to the incompetence of the government,” Malayao added.
According to KAMP, around 15,000 families of indigenous peoples were affected in the Islands of Panay, Mindoro and Palawan, and more than half have not regained their livelihood and productivity of their lands.
The situation and the series of the massive environmental disasters in indigenous peoples’ communities and the rest of the country was viewed by the indigenous peoples as impacts of climate change and beyond the bounds of environmental issues and disaster response.
“The massive effects of natural disasters to the people and the environment could be traced to the programs and policies of the government, which worsens the impact of climate change and environmental disasters. This situation must be understood by acknowledging its systemic root causes, the accountability and responsibility of government and top bureaucrats who passed laws such as the Mining Act of 1995,” said Malayao.
Malayao cited that more than 500,000 hectares of ancestral lands have been awarded to mining corporations. On top of this, 165 energy projects are in the pipelines, according to KAMP.
Resisting indigenous communities have suffered under the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, Malayao also shared. “Oplan Bayanihan resulted to bombings, encampment within indigenous communities, harassments, filing of trump-up charges, at least 17 cases of forced evacuation and 46 victims of extra-judicial killings since Aquino took power in July 2010,” Malayao said.
“There is no peace, and no justice in the Philippines under the Aquino government,” she added.#