Thursday, May 19, 2016

Listen to the people’s agenda, CPA tells local elected officials

[This is a press release by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA).]

Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) congratulates the winning local candidates during the past May 9 elections for garnering the support of their constituencies to serve the people. In a few weeks, the newly elected and reelected officials will assume their respective positions from the provincial to the municipal levels for the next three years. CPA puts forward its people’s agenda as one basis for the local officials to implement their mandate, as elected by the people.

Jill Carino, Vice Chairperson of the CPA says that the biggest challenge for the newly elected and reelected officials is to listen to the people’s agenda formulated by indigenous peoples in the different provinces of the region. She added that these people agenda may have particular forms in each province but they have common calls for the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples to their land, territories and resources.

Carino further stated that local officials should also support the calls of affected communities to stop destructive projects that are displacing indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands. Carino also emphasized that local government units should listen to the need of the people for basic social services, for better education, health services and to be able to uplift the socio-economic conditions of the people in the communities.

Aside from social services, Carino also highlighted human rights as one of the contents of the people’s agenda for the elected officials to support. Specifically, Carino called on the incoming officials to support the call of demilitarization of communities. She shared that militarization has been a source of numerous human rights violations against indigenous peoples and advocates in our communities. Carino added that there is a need to implement the provision of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on the rights of indigenous peoples for Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) whenever military troops enter into indigenous communities.

Incoming local officials should also support the call of newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte for Peace Talks. Carino reiterated the call for the release of political detainees because of their defense of ancestral land and resources. She emphasized that in Kalinga, Kennedy Bangibang, a Regional Consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, remains to be detained several years now and his case should also be given proper attention.

Local elected officials should also support community campaigns against the intrusion of so-called development projects. Carino especially mentioned big the proposed Alimit Hydro Power Complex in Ifugao, Chevron and geothermal plants in Kalinga; Mt. Province; Abra and other provinces. According to Carino, these projects are rejected by the communities because of their negative impacts.

In conclusion, Carino reiterated the challenges for the incoming local officials to listen to the people’s agenda for the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples to land, resources, livelihood and self-determined development in your respective provinces and municipalities.