UP IHR Partners with Angat Kalikasan Pilipinas (AKaP) for a Documentary Screening and Forum on Indigenous Peoples Rights
The University of the Philippines Law Center Institute of Human Rights (UP IHR), in partnership with Angat Kalikasan Pilipinas (AKaP), conducted a documentary screening and forum on indigenous peoples (IPs) held last 8 June 2023. The said screening featured “Tulaog: Sigaw ng mga Nililigaw”, a film about the lived realities of Dumagat-Remontados in General Nakar, Quezon Province. This was followed by a forum that aimed to engage the public in several discussions about IPs Rights and the laws governing them. In particular, the discussion revolved around the heavily disputed construction of the Kaliwa Dam and how it affected the lives of IPs communities in the area.
UP IHR Director Professor Elizabeth Aguiling-Pangalangan welcomed the event’s participants. In her speech, Professor Aguiling-Pangalangan reiterated the IHR’s commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights, underscoring that one way of ensuring this is by holding public discussions on the rights of IP. Meanwhile, former Ifugao representative and AKaP Chairperson Mr. Teddy Baguilat, Jr., in his opening remarks, emphasized the intersections between environmental rights and IPs rights. He maintained the inseparability of these two concepts given that most of the country’s biodiversity and critical watersheds are within ancestral domains.
Aside from former Cong. Baguilat, Jr., the event speakers were Mr. Marcelino S. Tena, a Dumagat elder and tribe leader from General Nakar; and Mr. William Quierrez, a traditional Dumagat leader and the general secretary of the group. They shed light on the challenges they encountered during the free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) process facilitated by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) for the Kaliwa Dam project. They also highlighted how important volunteerism is in the struggle for the protection of IPs rights and the environment.
As recognized leaders of the Dumagat-Remontados, the speakers lamented how the NCIP emphasized the importance of the IPRA for them as indigenous peoples, and yet, as soon as they understood the law and began to exercise their rights, they were labeled as terrorists. They further narrated the story of their march from Quezon Province to Manila, with the sole purpose of making their voices heard.
UP IHR’s Senior Legal Associate Atty. Raymond Marvic Baguilat delivered the closing remarks. He appealed for the public’s involvement in the struggles of IPs in preserving their ancestral domain and highlighted how events like these, wherein stakeholders get to freely and openly discuss, serve as indispensable platforms for the truth.
More than seventy (70) participants attended the event, including representatives from different organizations advocating for the same cause. The co-organizer, AKaP, is a national collaborative movement that seeks to harness empowered volunteerism in order to engage the youth, communities, leaders, and stakeholders in the issues and solutions pertaining to the environment and the Indigenous People’s rights.