A book, Customary Laws and Free, Prior and Informed Consent published by the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (TFIP), has been launched at Balay Kalinaw, University of the Philippines Diliman, on July 3.
The 255-page book features different case studies on indigenous peoples’ experiences in the Mt. Province, Nueva Vizcaya, Mindoro, Palawan, North and South Mindanao, and Cotabato. The book presents the status of customary laws of the different indigenous communities involved, their experiences on the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process being implemented by the state and the interface of customary laws and the state’s FPIC.
Jill Cariño, Convenor of TFIP, said “The book contains stories of the IPs affected by the entry of large projects such as mining , energy and oil palm. Its publication is very timely as there are numerous unsolved cases of violation of the FPIC process by these large corporations in indigenous communities.”
Based on the data of Approved Mining Permits of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in May 2012, of the 1.02M hectares of the country’s land open for large-scale mining, around 608,000 hectares or roughly 60% of these are in ancestral domains of indigenous peoples. Concurrent with these mining operations are various ventures of agrofuel plantations that cover 1.05M hectares (http://www.asienhaus.de/public/archiv/4_Food_or_Fuel.pdf).
The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of the Philippines (IPRA) clearly stipulates that FPIC must be obtained in accordance with the customary laws of the IP groups concerned. However, community experiences show that many of the customary laws were not applied in the FPIC process. Worse, many were deceived and the FPIC process was manipulated to favor the proponents of large-scale development aggression projects. The case studies show that, even with legislation, the government and large corporations are not serious in upholding indigenous peoples’ rights, particularly their right to FPIC.
Remarkably, the book also shows that IPs have taken up various forms of collective resistance to protect their land and culture despite threats, harassment, enforced disappearances and killings.
Cariño said that these experiences of the IPs should be an inspiration to all indigenous peoples to continue their struggle in reclaiming their land and toward self-determined development.
Lastly, Cariño said that their network will continue uncovering the stories of the IPs. They call for the respect and recognition of IP rights to FPIC and a genuine and transparent FPIC process.
TFIP is a network of non-governmental organizations in the Philippines advancing the cause of indigenous peoples’ (IPs) rights. The TFIP envisions a society that promotes and defends indigenous peoples’ rights and upholds their self-determined development.