June 22, 2024

CPA statement on Ako IP and bogus party-list groups

Indigenous peoples are not stupid.
In fact, we are stewards of decades-old culture and practices that abounds with wisdom. Wisdom and knowledge are not concentrated within the halls of educational institutions. From years of living amongst nature and taking care of the land, indigenous peoples have developed mechanisms for livelihood and sustenance that jibes with the climate, weather and characteristics of the land; these are centuries worth of wisdom.
And with the compounded crisis that we are facing at this time, the world has so much to learn from indigenous peoples. Globally, our ancestral lands are recognized to host most of the world’s biodiversity which proves that indigenous peoples are leading in biodiversity conservation.
The persistence of rich biodiversity in our ancestral territories is a testament of our forefathers’ prudence in caring for the environment and natural resources. However, these are now threatened by state-sponsored destructive projects initiated by corporations that intend to plunder the resources we have nurtured and cared for.
The pandemic, climate change, and disasters that have affected our lives and many of us have succumbed to are a result of decades of environmental destruction that leaves humanity vulnerable to these plagues with the depletion of biodiversity that could actually protect us from pathogens and prevent climate crises.
Throughout the Duterte government, our nation has faced a multitude of human rights violations and which persist even as we seek to put an end to his ruling. Throughout this barrage of state attacks on our rights by the government, IPs are on the forefront of rights assertion and leading in policy advocacy to prevent the total eradication of democracy.
Our indigenous socio-political practices hold the wisdom of humane and civil interactions with fellowmen. The traditional peace process of bodong to settle conflicts among indigenous communities is an example. Our elders teachings of “inayan” or the admonition not to harm and to be in good relations with individuals, the community and the environment; “ipeyas nan gawis” (to share whatever is good) and betad (collective action or mass mobilization) are just some of our indigenous social values and discipline that nourish social wellbeing and contributes to building a society that truly cares for people and environment.
Making derogatory comments about fellowmen is deplorable as it is insulting. Indigenous elders would admonish such callous behavior, inayan!
The misconception that IPs are “mangmang” is what we are trying to abolish with our educational and cultural campaigns.
The absence of knowledge and understanding of indigenous issues is apparent in that statement. Those masquerading to be advocates are only using IPs and other marginalized sectors for their selfish electoral agenda. Such candidates are not qualified to represent us, indigenous peoples, in Congress.
As election nears, random individuals and groups are spontaneously showing up claiming to advocate or represent certain sectors and yet they are unaware of these sectors’ issues and demands, nor do they have it in their objective to do so. The party-list system is being hijacked by people whose only objective is to secure a political post that will serve their own interest.
We must demand electoral reforms to ensure that the party-list system will truly serve those unrepresented and marginalized sectors like indigenous peoples.
To our kakailian, fellow IPs and indigenous rights advocates, let us be discerning and perceptive in the qualities that we seek in a representative. Let us be instrumental in ushering in an administration that echoes and articulates the legitimate calls of IPs; public servants that will craft policies that address our issues. — CORDILLERA PEOPLE’S ALLIANCE, Baguio City