Transforming IP communities into human rights citadels

As part of the ongoing efforts to strengthen human rights capacities of Indigenous Peoples’ communities, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR) conducted a series of community-based awareness sessions for Lumad communities in Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur.

The trainings were immediately conducted after President Rodrigo Duterte passed the Presidential Proclamation 360 that effectively terminated the peace process between the Government of the Philippines and the Communist Party of the Philippines on November 23, 2017.

The training series forms part of the ‘Promoting and Protection Indigenous Human Rights in the Philippines (PPIHRP)’ Project implemented by RMP-NMR in partnership with Relief International. It includes an orientation on basic human rights and an overview of various instruments that Lumad communities can use when their rights are under attack.

Maridel Fano, PPIHRP Project coordinator, said that the awareness sessions were urgently needed especially now that a crackdown against peoples’ organizations are happening as a result of the breakdown of the peace talks. “Lumad communities are the most vulnerable right now,” she said. “They have long been accused of being members of armed groups. Their mere existence in their remote communities have made them a target for military operations. On top of that is their assertion of their rights over their territories that necessarily go against the wishes of the state to take control of their lands for economic interests.”

The PPIHRP Project is supported by the European Union through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.