MANILA - A Philippine lawmaker on Sunday, which is International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples, called for the end of discrimination against Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and for the protection of their rights.
“Sa araw na ito, daang libong mga katutubo at lumad ang nagpapahayag ng paninindigan para wakasan na ang di-makataong diskriminasyon sa pambansang minorya,” Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, a Lumad leader, said in a statement.
(Today, hundreds of thousands of Indigenous Peoples are making their stand known for the end of discrimination against the country’s minority.)
“Depensahan ang ating mga lupang ninuno. Ipagtanggol ang ating karapatan,” she said.
(Defend our ancestral land. Defend our rights.)
An online celebration was held Sunday morning, spearheaded by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, to mark the occasion. It carried the theme, “Katutubong Kaalaman, Sistema at Pamamaraan sa Bagong Karaniwan” (Indigenous Knowledge, Systems, and Practices in the New Normal), in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Different IP groups across the country were to take part in the program that includes a chanting and prayer to ward off the pandemic and a presentation of how the respective communities are coping with the crisis, among others, the NCIP said.
“Inuna pa ang pagpasa ng mga batas na hindi makatao at hindi angkop sa kalagayan at pangangailangan ng mamamayan, ang Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 at ngayon, ang Death Penalty, kaysa sa paglalatag ng malinaw na plano at paraan paano ililigtas ang mamamayan sa malubhang kagutuman dulot nitong virus na ito," Cullamat lamented.
(Measures that are inhumane and do not cater to the needs of the people, such as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and now, the Death Penalty, are being prioritized, instead of laying down clear plans to protect the people from severe hunger due to the virus.)
She complained as well over the closure of IP schools by the current government, and the alleged takeover by large plantations and mining firms of their ancestral lands.
Cullamat said the commemoration Sunday reminds everyone on the struggle of the IPs for self-determination and having their own economic, political and cultural systems.
“Simula pa sa kasayasayan, mahirap man ang aming kalagayan ay nanatili kaming matatag sa aming pakikibaka, lalo't alam namin na hindi kami nag-iisa sa aming laban,” she said.
(From the start, we remain strong in our struggle despite our difficult situation, especially since we are aware we are not alone in this fight.)