Kathlene Ann Go, Angelo Yanga
Photo grabbed from @LCVOfficial
In order to raise awareness about the effects of urbanization in rural areas, the Letran Community Volunteers (LCV) and the Center for Community Development (CCD) conducted a seminar about the indigenous people and their rights last January 10 at the Mabini Hall.
CCD Director Asst. Prof. Leo Barnadas opened the seminar with an opening remark. “The Manila Youth Act Now or MAYAN is a movement to unite the youth of Manila to stand and take action on the national and sectoral issue. One of the advocacy of Mayan is environmental campaign Panalipdan which means defend in Cebuano,” said Bernadas. “Last November 2017, the group formally requested the Colegio to help them with this campaign."
The guest speakers were Atty. Noel K. Felongco, Atty. Jesus G. Torres, Asst. Prof. Manuel Zamora Jr. and Johnny Basilio.
Indigenous people under the protection of Philippine Law
The first speaker was Atty. Noel K. Felongco, Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management, Local Government and Indigenous Peoples Concern at Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Atty Felongco’s talk was focused on the laws about indigenous people. He said, “RA 8371 defines indigenous people. The definition really speaks about the indigenous people.”
“[It] refers to the group of people or Homogeneous society identified by self-ascription and ascription by others who have continuously lived as organized community on community bounded and defined territory who have under-claimed ownership,” he added.
Moreover, Felongco presented regulations that provide protection for the estimated 12 to 50 million indigenous people by the Landmark Law of South East Asia or Indigenous People Rights Act passed in 1997.
Expounding Cultural Rights for Indigenous People
The second speaker was Atty. Jesus G. Torres, OIC Chief, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights(ESCR) Center on Human Rights of the Philippines.
Atty. Torres expounded the rights of Indigenous People with additions of United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples and insight about economic, social, and cultural rights.
“The indigenous people have their culture na kailangan i-reserve at igalang din,” Torres said emphasizing the domestic laws that are being implemented for the human rights.
“Self-sufficiency is still the power of indigenous people. Sabi nila kung wala pa 'yung’ gobyerno kaya naming mabuhay kahit by just taking fishing, farming and all,” he ended.
Looking at the life of indigenous people through an Aeta Leader
The third speaker was Johnny Basilio, Vice President, Katribu Central Luzon Chairman, Aeta Tribal Association.
Johnny Basilio shared his tribe’s experiences under the influence of big companies and capitalists who are exploiting their community.
“Hindi tunay na napasara ang mga minahan na dating pinasara ni DENR Secretary Gina Lopez, lalo pa ngang’ pinagtibay ang operasyon nito," said Basilo.
A student's takeaway
“The common struggle of IPs is their need to be recognized and heard by the society. They want to enjoy the same liberties other people have and they want the people to respect their own customs,” said Nathalie Espinosa, fourth year, Political Science
“Dahil dapat nirerespeto ng gobyerno yung kahalagahan nila. Therefore, the importance of ancestral domain of IPs is as important as their existence without their ancestral and traditional domains their way of life and long-preserved culture will vanish from the history of man,” she ended.