March 21, 2011
(L-R) Cong. Kaka Bag-ao of Akbayan, Datu Ed Banda, Ms. Viel Aquino-Dy, Cong. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, and UNDP-Phil.
Country Director Renaud Meyer. (Photo by Eio Avena/UNDP Photo)
Quezon City, Philippines—Around 150 indigenous peoples from all over the country arrived in Manila for a groundbreaking three-day national summit
to affirm the National Indigenous Peoples’ Policy Agenda and formulate a common IP Action Plan, which is crucial in the upholding of
indigenous peoples’ rights.
The Policy Agenda and the Action Plan will represent the sector’s major recommendations to the legislative and executive sectors.
“Indigenous peoples’ organizations, advocates, and network formations come together to assert on an IP Agenda. The Agenda is
rooted in, and respond to, the indigenous peoples’ situations on the grounds,” said Piya Macliing Malayao of Kalipunan ng mga
Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP), a national alliance of organizations of indigenous peoples.
“This is another venue for indigenous peoples to articulate their aspirations as a people, and translate these into
government policy and reform,” added Congressman Teddy Brawner Baguilat said.
Baguilat is from the Tuwali tribe of Ifugao and representative of the lone congressional district of Ifugao. He also chairs the
House Committee on National Cultural Communities and was instrumental in the organization of the landmark summit.
An indigenous ritual opened up the three-day event, which revolved around the theme “Building Consensus, Claiming the Future.”
“In a democratic society, the future does not need to be claimed, it is yours,” said United Nations Development Programme country
representative Renaud Meyer in his welcome remarks. It makes the gathering was even more timely and significant Meyer said.
“Indigenous peoples face serious threats due to errant government policy.”
“The indigenous peoples sector remains marginalized. Responding to issues on education, social services, development aggression,
and their rights to self-determination is crucial to their development as a people,” Hon. Baguilat added.
These and other significant issues such as the peace process, reforms in the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples and the
review of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act, will also be discussed in workshops that will result in the affirmation of the
common legislative and executive agenda and the formulation of the IP Action Plan.
The participants were welcomed by indigenous peoples advocate and President of the Assisi Foundation, Viel Aquino-Dee.
In solidarity she said, “At the heart of the struggle is the right of the poorest of the poor in this country. It is a struggle
for their own children, tribes and communities and to survive, people must assimilate with bigger sectors. Indigenous Peoples
are sending out clear and loud message to entire nation that this is wrong – they say the Indigenous Peoples have the right to
both co existence and development. It is their right to be recognized, protected respected and fulfilled.”
“We will strive to forge unities and make best use of this gathering,” shared Hon. Baguilat. “The National IP Policy Agenda is
a product of a process which started August last year with the establishment of the Consultative Group on Indigenous Peoples (CGIP).
Despite the different ideologies and orientations of each group, we were able to work as one and consolidate the various IP agendas.”
I am the representative of the people of Ifugao but I am also committed to work for the advancement of indigenous peoples’ rights
and welfare in our country, he added.
The summit will conclude on March 23, 2011.
(Photo by Eio Avena/UNDP Photo)