The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR), through its ‘Healing the Hurt’ Project, launched the Lumad Academy for Human Rights to improve human rights orientation of leaders of Lumad traditional structures and community organizations.
“The Academy seeks to enable Lumad leaders to lead their respective communities in campaigning against actual issues of land grabs and violations of civil and political rights, and to maximize various international human rights instruments in defense of their people and communities,” said Ailene Villarosa, advocacy officer of RMP-NMR. “It will further guarantee organizational and financial sustainability of indigenous traditional structures and community-based organizations in the long run.”
The Academy, initially held in series in September and October 2016, is an informal training program that provides education on various international human rights mechanisms and procedures, campaigns management on land rights, and organizational and financial management. It will be availed by more than a hundred traditional leaders and heads of community-based organizations from 43 select indigenous communities of Mindanao.
The training course is divided in three parts namely: Course 1: International Bill on Human Rights that includes discussions and workshops on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; Course 2: Mass Campaign Management that includes topics like mass campaign design development, table battle and negotiation, public speaking and media work, and lobbying and alliance Work; and Course 3: Organizational Management encompassing security and protection management, membership consolidation and expansion, and donor relations and culturally-apt fund raising strategies.
Although most of the topics cited are very technical and the governing standards are framed within the established international standards, a module had been tailored-fit to the needs and level of participants taking into consideration cultural factors.
The sessions are also designed as a trainers’ training to enable indigenous leaders to re-echo to their respective communities what they have learned from the Academy. “These re-echo sessions will ensure that all community members are united in hearts and minds in asserting their rights according to international standards, in launching sound community campaigns on land and human rights, and in organizational development,” said Villarosa.
Datu Jomorito Goaynon, chairperson of project-partner Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization, emphasized the necessity of the project to transform indigenous communities into “human rights citadels”. “The Academy will further reinforce our capacities in launching campaigns for land and rights and enable us to combat violence and criminalization of our work at the grassroots level. This will help us continue to exist, consolidate and expand membership despite a difficult environment,” Goaynon said.
The Academy is an initiative of RMP-NMR—in coordination with Kalumbay and the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao—under the ‘Healing the Hurt’ Project supported by the European Union through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.###