Intensify the indigenous peoples’ struggle for ancestral domain and self-determinaton

JMS kamp 3mar2015

Message of Solidarity to KAMP
on its Fourth National Congress
3-5 March 2015

ILPS Chairperson

We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), wish to convey our warmest greetings of solidarity to the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) on the occasion of its Fourth National Congress. We salute the delegations of the various organizations of indigenous people and congratulate the officers of KAMP for convening them.

It is of great importance and acute urgency that your congress has adopted the theme: “Maigting na ipaglaban ang lupang ninuno at sariling pagpapasya sa balangkas ng pakikibaka para sa pambansang kalayaan at demokrasya.” (Intensify the struggle for ancestral domain and self-determination within the frame of national liberation and democracy).

Strengthen your Organization and Intensify the Struggle

It is imperative that you strengthen your organization in order to fight for the rights of the indigenous peoples as well as to advance the over-all revolutionary struggle of the Filipino people for national and social liberation against US imperialism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords and their corrupt political agents in the reactionary government.

It is just for the indigenous peoples to intensify their struggle against their massive dislocation and the environmental destruction of their ancestral lands which the reactionary government has escalated in the name of “development”. These extensive land areas are sold off to foreign investors in mining and logging, oil palm plantations, energy projects, special economic zones, real estate and tourism projects.

The indigenous peoples are undergoing intolerable suffering as a result of the US-Aquino regime’s aggravation of its predecessor’s policies of puppetry to foreign interests, plunder and state terrorism. At an accelerated rate, the indigenous peoples continue to lose their land, homes, livelihood, resources and their very lives.

Their dispossession, poverty, and the wanton violation of their human rights are being carried out by a regime of bureaucrat capitalists whose corruption lies in taking bribes from foreign monopoly interests, big compradors and land grabbers; and in stealing public funds in the US-style pork barrel system.

Plunder and Environmental Destruction by Mining Companies

The Aquino regime has aggravated the anti-national, anti-democratic, anti-people and anti-environment terms and consequences of the widely-detested Philippine Mining Act of 1995 by issuing Executive Order No. 79 in July 2012, with the deceptive title “Institutionalizing and Implementing Reforms in the Mining Sector, Providing Policies and Guidelines to Ensure Environmental Protection and Responsible Mining in the Utilization of Mineral Resources.”

EO 79 maintains the 771 kinds of large-scale permits that were previously approved and filed for approval, and it allows Aquino to approve additional mining operations. The overwhelming majority of mining operations are in the areas of the indigenous peoples. The order seeks to streamline the procedures for granting mining permits and to override decisions of local governments and communities that have opposed large scale mining.

The central government now has the total authority to expropriate mineral lands for exploitation and undermines the rights of the indigenous peoples to ancestral territories as well as the authority of local government units. It has negated environmental protection by claiming to be able to raise more revenues from mining concessions. It discourages small-scale and traditional mining, which provides a livelihood to the poor people, while in fact the big mining companies helicopter out of the country precious metals and understate the value of other mineral ores.

According to your report, five of the six Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAA) are located within the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples. Also in IP territories are: 148 of the 339 approved Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA), 23 of the 61 Exploration Permits (EP), 30 of the 84 Mineral Processing Permits (MPP), and 45 of 222 industrial sand and gravel operations. A great number of indigenous peoples from 39 tribal groups are subject to dislocation and loss of livelihood as a result of the all-out mining liberalization under BS Aquino.

Irreversible and irreparable damage is being done to the ancestral lands and the ecosystem. Open pit mining and logging operations continue to destroy the forest cover. Soil erosion is worsening. Floods and droughts are becoming more serious from year to year. Mine tailings and the use of toxic chemicals are poisoning the land, the waters and organisms that provide food to the people.

Plunder by Energy, Logging and Plantation Companies

To the detriment of the indigenous peoples, whose settlements are subject to inundation, the Aquino regime is also aggressively undertaking energy projects – the building of dams for hydro-electricity, and plants that run on geothermal and coal-fired power. Under the Public Private Partnership scheme, water and electricity are concentrated in the hands of big comprador companies in close alliance with foreign banks and firms. The rape of the environment is being bannered as the “green economy” and misrepresented as the protection of the environment.

The monopolies of Aboitiz, Lopez, Ayala, Cojuangco, Pangilinan and their foreign investors are ever expanding their control of the water resources of the country. According to your report, there are at more than 149 hydropower projects and 16 geothermal projects that have been built, are under construction, or are in the pipeline. Those are designed to inundate and submerge indigenous communities.

Logging for export and for the local private construction boom has continued unabated despite logging bans. It has been ruining the habitat and source of livelihood of the indigenous peoples. It has caused outright deforestation and severe soil erosion, floods and droughts. It has also encouraged the establishment of rubber and palm oil plantations.

Palm oil plantations are being expanded in the Philippines in conjunction with worldwide demand for bio-fuel, medicine, food, and cosmetics. They are causing the destruction of rainforest areas, habitat loss, and further dwindling of endangered animal species. They are causing a significant number of indigenous peoples to suffer loss of land and livelihood, hunger and human right violations. The use of US-banned pesticides has afflicted people with skin and gastrointestinal diseases.This has also caused their coconut, banana and other kinds of crops to wither and die.

Other Forms of Plunder by Corrupt Bureaucrats

The setting up of special economic zones, like the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority or APECO, and the Clark Green City, has resulted in depriving the indigenous people of land and livelihood. These projects are designed to allow bureaucrats like the Aquinos and Angaras to steal public funds by the billions and to grab the land from the indigenous peoples and override previous pretenses to distribute land to the landless and to protect the environment.

The corruption of the Aquino ruling clique has become totally exposed. Hundreds of billions of pesos have been misappropriated under the Disbursement Acceleration Program, Priority Development Assistance Fund, and other categories of lump sums of public money without congressional approval and subject to the personal discretion of Aquino. Even the Supreme Court has declared the arbitrary disposition of public funds by the principal authors as unconstitutional and illegal.

The greed, corruption and indifference of the Aquino regime to public interest has been repeatedly underscored by its failure to mobilize government personnel and resources for rescue, relief and rehabilitation during natural disasters, such as the annual typhoons and the supertyphoon Haiyan or Yolanda. Those who suffer most from these calamities are the indigenous peoples and poor peasants whose homes are flimsy and who lack food stocks and other means for immediate recovery.

The Philippines has made a very modest contribution to global warming through carbon dioxide emissions which have made the Pacific Ocean a highway for typhoons. But the mining, logging, plantation and other resource-based companies in the Philippines have definitely degraded the environment to the point of making the Philippines greatly vulnerable to typhoons and other natural disasters.

Oplan Bayanihan and EDCA

The man-made disasters made by the rulers and their foreign masters continue unabated, with the ceaseless exploitation of the toiling masses, the plunder of natural resources and the repressive policy and actions taken. Under the US-designed Oplan Bayanihan, the Aquino regime has used the military, police, paramilitary and private security agencies to commit widespread human rights violations and serve the interests of the companies involved in mining, plantations, tourism, infrastructure and energy generation.

The regime has brutally inflicted massive dislocation and environmental destruction on the indigenous communities. And when people resist, they are subjected to mass intimidation and forced evacuations, the extrajudicial killings of suspected leaders and activists of the resistance, harassment and illegal detention on the basis of trumped up charges, blind air strikes and random fire by machine gun and artillery, and the dismantling or occupation of schools by enemy troops.

The most malicious of enemy tactics is the use of intimidation and bribery to organize paramilitary groups within the indigenous communities for the purpose of coercing the people, becoming part of the investment defense forces of the enemy, and participating in counterrevolutionary activities under Oplan Bayanihan.

The regime knows no bounds for its puppetry to US imperialism. It has submitted the Philippines to the aggressive US strategic shift to East Asia and has forged with the US the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. This executive agreement practically allows the return of US bases in violation of the 1987 Constitution under the guise of accommodating US military forces in Allowed Areas. The deceptive use of euphemism cannot conceal the brazen violation of national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

To make way for the return of US military forces,18,000 hectares are being fenced off in Tarlac and Pampanga. The Aytas whose ancestral domain spans the Zambales Mountain Range and the upland of Pampanga, Zambales and Tarlac are threatened with displacement from their land and livelihood. The Allowed Areas pledged to the US military forces under the EDCA are in various parts of the country. More indigenous peoples are threatened with displacement.

Misuse of the IPRA and NCIP

We condemn the Aquino regime for having refused to heed the indigenous peoples’ cry and concrete proposals for respect for their rights and their collective welfare, for reforms in the corrupt National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and for the review of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), particularly in the guidelines defining the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). The IPRA remains ineffective in stopping landgrabbing and the plunder of resources by foreign and local capitalists.

The regime has used the IPRA and NCIP to violate the rights of the indigenous peoples and to instigate disunity for the purpose of divide and rule. The IPRA has created indigenous landlords by awarding them titles or CADT/CALT over extensive lands. These title-holders have served as agents facilitating the entry of investment projects. They also become recruiters of paramilitary groups that guard the projects and suppress resistance.

The NCIP has organized “consultations” only to persuade the indigenous communities to allow the entry of a mining or energy company by presenting only the supposed benefits from the projects and obscuring the destructive effects on the people and environment. Participants to a consultation are handpicked and always limited to those inclined to vote for the project. Intimidation and bribery have often been applied by the reactionary government and companies on tribal leaders.

ILPS Support for the Indigenous Peoples

We in the ILPS fully understand that the indigenous peoples in the Philippines are justified in upholding, defending and advancing their rights to ancestral domain and to self-determination by participating in the Filipino people’s struggle for national liberation and democracy through people’s war against US imperialism and the local reactionaries.

We the ILPS support KAMP and all the indigenous peoples’ organizations and communities in having issued the following calls to action:

  • Recognize and uphold the rights of indigenous peoples to ancestral land and self-determination!
  • Stop large-scale and destructive mining in IP territories! Repeal the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and enact a patriotic, pro-IP, pro-environment, and responsible mining policy. Revoke Executive Order No. 79.
  • Stop the killings of indigenous peoples now!  Carry-out prompt and effective investigation of the human rights violations committed against indigenous peoples.  Ensure that all responsible for these violations be prosecuted.   
  • Stop militarization in the countryside! Pull-out state forces in indigenous communities and immediately dismantle paramilitary groups. 
  • Revoke Executive Order No. 546! Stop the recruitment of IPs to paramilitary groups. 
  • Stop the attacks on IP schools!
  • Scrap the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan! Address the root causes of the armed conflict in the country and resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front. 
  • Stop the construction of mega dams, destructive energy projects, Special Economic Zones and other so-called development projects detrimental to the IPs and environment. Stop the expansion of palm, rubber and other corporate plantations into ancestral lands.
  • Revoke the mining permits of SMI-Xstrata (now Glencore), Royalco (in Bakun and Nueva Vizcaya), and others that violate indigenous peoples’ rights! End mining plunder!
  • Stop the construction of the Kaliwa (Laiban) Dam!
  • Stop the Jalaur River Multipurpose Dam!
  • Stop the Pulangi V construction!
  • Scrap RA 10083! Stop the APECO project!
  • Stop the construction of Clark Green City!

Thank you.


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