Indigenous peoples (IP) leaders called for a thorough, just, independent and community-based investigation into reported injustices suffered by IPs in the hands of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
In a web forum on August 5, 2020, Christine Banugan, leader of the Mandaya Tribe who led the appeal on behalf of the IP communities, urged authorities to look deeply and listen to the voice of the “authentic and recognized IP leaders” who have been victims of the atrocities of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
She directed her call to the Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines, government officials, and experts in the United Nations particularly the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of IPs, José Francisco Cali Tzay, who was one of the speakers in the event.
Banugan said her father, who was then their tribe leader, was murdered by the CPP-NPA along with his brother and a relative in 2016.
Banugan said the CPP-NPA-NDF “are the perpetrators of all these atrocities and their front organizations, the non-government organizations, who are self-proclaimed human rights advocate and IP rights defenders but in fact the champion of exploitation and radicalization of our IP brethren”.
She asked for help in investigating the misrepresentation done by NGOs posing as the “voice of the IPs” to the international community to be able to get financial support abroad by exploiting the situation of the IPs while fabricating false issues.
“Worst is, the money they get from foreign donors is the money the use to kill us,” she said, as she prodded authorities to “expose the deception, exploitation, and radicalization of the CPP-NPA-NDF and their front organizations to raise awareness not just to fellow IPs but to everyone here and abroad because one of you might be a victim of these NGOs”.
Meanwhile, Banugan also called on the government to fast-track the mainstreaming of the IPRA (Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act) Law so that everyone, most especially government agencies, will not be ignorant of the rights of the IPs.
Banugan also appealed to everyone that IPs only want peace in their ancestral domain and be able to freely exercise their rights, preserve their cultural heritage, and protect and conserve their biodiversity for the next generations of their tribe.
She also encouraged other IP leaders to speak up and cooperate for the good of the IP communities, asking them to unite not just in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic but in their decades-long fight to protect and safeguard the lives of the IPs and their ancestral domain.
The web forum, “Mga Tingog Sa Yutang Kabilin” (Voices From The Ancestral Domains),” was spearheaded by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and was participated in by different IP communities, concerned government agencies and international organizations.
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. (Marita Moaje, PNA)