Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Peoples leaders from Luzon and Mindanao © Astrud Lea Beringer

Indigenous Peoples leaders from Luzon and Mindanao © Astrud Lea Beringer

Indigenous peoples in the Philippines are estimated to be 12 to 15 million , belonging to 110 ethno-linguistic groups. Northern Luzon (33%) and Mindanao (61%), with some groups in the Visayas area, are home to the majority of indigenous people. Remaining amongst the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the Philippines, indigenous peoples are facing discriminations and exclusion in areas such as access to land, healthcare, education, and political participation.

The Philippine Constitution as well as the 1997 Republic Act 8371 or “Indigenous Peoples Rights Act” (IPRA) mandate state recognition, protection, promotion and fulfillment of the rights of indigenous peoples.

Internationally, the rights of the indigenous peoples are protected by Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Notwithstanding that, indigenous people have been subjected to discrimination and marginalization from political processes and economic benefits. They often face loss of ancestral lands, displacement and,particularly in Mindanao, even armed conflicts.

Access to land is essential to the indigenous peoples in order that they can feed themselves and their families adequately. However, this access is often denied by public development projects, mining activities or agrofuel interests, resulting in hunger and malnutrition.

Despite legal protection, the right to adequate food of indigenous peoples has been frequently violated in the Philippines, predominantly in conjunction with ancestral domain struggles. Forests, timberlands and rivers are essential for the daily existence and culture of the indigenous peoples. Mining and large scale farms of private companies often threaten the surrounding environment and livelihood of indigenous peoples, and consequently their fundamental human right to food.

FIAN Philippines supports indigenous people’s demand for human rights by ensuring the implementation of legal protection of their rights at national and international levels.