IP group says ‘NCIP has nothing to showcase, just violation of IP rights’

Indigenous Peoples group Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas refutes the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples’ (NCIP) welcoming statement to the UN Special Rapporteur (SR) on freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan, in her 10-day visit to the Philippines.

According to Beverly Longid, the national convenor of Katribu, the NCIP has nothing to showcase in terms of promoting and protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples (IP) in the Philippines. “In its 26 years of existence, it has only served as an instrument of plunder and violence in the countryside. In fact, the Indigenous Peoples’ Free, Prior, and Informed Consent is violated through the NCIP’s purported consent.”

In a previous statement, Katribu emphasized that violations of Indigenous Peoples’ freedom of expression are evident in the manipulation of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC).

In March 2023, former NCIP chairperson Allen Capuyan, along with NCIP-Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and -Region 1 commissioner Gaspar Cayat, faced administrative cases at the Ombudsman for falsifying FPIC documents related to the operations of the National Cement Corporation/San Miguel Northern Cement Inc. (NCC/SMNCI) within the ancestral lands of the Bag-o in Pangasinan.

In December 2023, the Isnag Yapayao Balangon Tribal Council Inc. (IYBTC) and Isnag Yapayao Ugayam Tribal Council (IYUTC) jointly released a statement criticizing the NCIP-Ilocos Norte for abruptly completing the FPIC process for the construction of the Cabacanan Small Reservoir Irrigation Project (CSRIP) of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

Prior cases of FPIC manipulation through the deception of affected Indigenous Peoples were also documented, including the construction of the Chico River Irrigation Pump Project and Gened Dams in Cordillera, the Balog-Balog Dam in Tarlac, the Kaliwa-Kanan Dams in Quezon and Rizal provinces, the Jalaur Mega Dam in Ilo-ilo, and the operations of the Oceanagold Mining Corporation in Nueva Vizcaya.

“The construction of destructive dam and mine projects on ancestral lands is often railroaded through fraudulent FPIC documents, with support from other government agencies such as the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), the military, and the police,” Longid expressed. The nine (9) Tumandok killed in a December 2020 massacre through a joint police and military operation were previously red-tagged due to their opposition to the construction of Jalaur and Pan-ay Dams.

Longid added, “Attacks on Indigenous Peoples have intensified through the collaboration of NCIP and NTF-ELCAC. It is important to remember that retired military officer Allen Capuyan also served as the executive director of NTF-ELCAC, with NCIP as its lead implementer of the government’s ‘whole-of-nation’ counterinsurgency plan, centered on Indigenous Peoples communities.”

Capuyan also led Task Force Gantangan and supported paramilitary groups such as Magahat-Bagani—the group, along with the military, guilty in the Lianga 1 massacre that killed ALCADEV Executive Director Emerito Samarca and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo in 2015.

Katribu, along with other human rights groups, call on UN SR Irene Khan to investigate the rising cases of fake and forced surrenders, abductions, enforced disappearances, criminalization, terrorist designations, and killings among Indigenous communities under President Bongbong Marcos’ administration.

“As we condemn these attacks, we challenge the current NCIP chairperson, Jennifer Sibug-Las, to not be another Capuyan and a parrot of the current administration. She should stand with her fellow Indigenous Peoples for land, genuine development, and self-determination,” Longid concluded.