Indigenous women from different communities of Luzon and Mindanao marched together with hundreds of progressive groups today, July 24 in Quezon City to sound off the alarm against attacks and killings of IPs in time for the second State of the Nation Address (SONA) of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
During the National Indigenous Women’s Gathering (NIWG), an annual gathering of indigenous women in time for the SONA, indigenous women sounded off that there had been no significant changes between the Duterte and Marcos Jr. administration. They have reported that attacks and killings of IP leaders in their communities continue, and remain under-reported.
Some IP communities have reported that entry of new mining explorations are looming as new permits are approved, while basic social services continue to be inaccessible for many. Indigenous women also lamented that under the one year of Marcos Jr., his policies to address the rising prices of basic commodities remain insufficient.
“Nagpapatuloy ang atake sa amin dahil sa aming pagtatanggol sa aming mga karapatan at sa pagdepensa sa aming lupaing ninuno. Pinagpapatuloy lamang niya ang mga marahas na polisiya ng nakaraang administrasyong Duterte habang patuloy din ang diskriminasyon, kabastusan, karahasan, at inseguridad sa buhay naming mga katutubong kababaihan,” said Jen Cornelio, a Teduray woman from Mindanao.
Cornelio said that their organization Inged Fintailan has documented 55 IP killings under the administration of Marcos Jr. in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) alone.
Judy Pasimio, Overall Coordinator of LILAK Purple Action of Indigenous Women (LILAK) and a co-petitioner to the Supreme Court against the highly contested Anti-Terrorism Law, said that the law continues to send a chilling effect not just to freedom of expression but to the exercise of one's right to fundamental freedoms.
Pasimio said that the designation of indigenous people's rights advocates has put fear, if not hesitation, among activists, and ordinary citizens, who want to express views that are critical of the government and its programs and policies.
“Indigenous women are still at risk under this administration. All sweet talk to the international community about its commitment to fulfill its human rights obligations. But the realities on the ground speaks volume - IPs remain under attack and human rights defenders continue to be at risk, ” said Pasimio.
According to Pasimio, the silence on the human rights violations committed by the previous Duterte administration, the pronouncements of the DOJ to not cooperate with the ICC in its investigations, are substantive evidence that there has been no significant changes for human rights.
“Katulad ng nakaraang SONA, hindi na namin inaasahan ang mabanggit ang katutubong kababaihan ngayong taon. Pero sana ay magsimula siya sa gawa - ang pagpapanagot sa mga karahasang dinulot ng kanyang ama, ang pagbabalik ng ill-gotten wealth na ninakaw ng kanyang pamilya, at ang pagpapanagot sa nakaraang administrasyong Duterte. Doon siguro namin makikita ang simula ng pinangako niyang pagbabago,” Pasimio ended.