MANILA - The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Wednesday reminded the government to protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) to their ancestral lands.
In a statement, the CHR said ancestral lands of IPs such as the Lumad are "sacred" and land development plans must consider their right of ownership.
"For the ICCs ( indigenous cultural communities) and IPs, ancestral lands are sacred. Their very identity and life are anchored on the land that their ancestors have nurtured and fought for with blood and sweat," the commission said.
"Development plans must not supersede their welfare, identity, and rights but must instead contribute to the strengthening and enhancement of their plight," the commission added.
The reminder comes following President Rodrigo Duterte's speech last week where he vowed to set aside funds for the Lumad for agricultural development in ancestral domains.
"While the President's intention is to generate economic activity towards alleviating poverty in the Lumad area, it is vital to be circumspect when it comes to development plans involving ancestral domains," the CHR said.
The commission reminded the government that the IPs' rights to their ancestral land is protected by law, specifically the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act.
"The State must uphold the rights and well-being of the ICCs and IPs," the CHR said.