Promoting Peace and the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights through Network Building

Sulong CARHRIHL with the support from  the Conflict Prevention and Peace-building Program (CPPB) of GOP-UNDP held a series of initiatives with different IP groups from in different areas in Luzon from Mid-part of 2007 up to January 2010. With the conclusion of this series, the IP Network was born.

Since 2007, efforts have already been made to look into the situations of Indigenous People in Luzon on how they were affected by the armed conflict between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDF.  This led to the discussion of how they have responded to their situations and their indigenous ways of resolving conflict and peace-building. The project launched focused in areas such as Tubo-Abra, Porac-Pampanga, Aurora, Bulacan, North Quezon, Camarines Norte, Mindoro Occidental and Mindoro Oriental.

Research through interviews, FGDs and validation workshops were conducted to identify their experiences and to share these experiences in different tribes in Luzon. This project became a catalyst for building the initial level of partnership between these groups.

To further respond to their need of building their capacity in peace and human rights advocacy, Sulong CARHRIHL had conducted a series of trainings to IP partners in Luzon. The next step that was taken was to conduct a Documentation and Monitoring Training upon the request of the IP groups.

These trainings were done in Mindoro Oriental, Abra, North Quezon and cluster trainings for Pampanga, Camarines Norte, Bulacan and Aurora. The IP partners in these areas then established the Local Monitoring Teams in different formation, which were able to respond to cases of violations that had happened in the community-level and had submitted reports and complaints at the GRP Monitoring Committee, NCIP and OPAPP.

An Exchange Visit Program was also conducted in 2008 as part of the plan by the 9 IP partners, a program that became a venue wherein they were able to share how conducted peace and CARHRIHL advocacy at the community level and the concrete gains and impact of their advocacy in solving the armed conflict situation in their respective areas. The participants learned the experiences of other tribes in forming each of their organizations and their key roles as leaders, women and youth in solving problems in their community.

As a result of the Exchange Visit Program, the IP partners in Luzon were able to plan the expansion to other IP areas in nearby provinces/municipalities to build their cluster network formation. The partner in Tubo Abra aspired to federate the different tribes in Abra as a result of his learning experience with the Mangyans in Mindoro Occidental.

The consultation program included an orientation of the CARHRIHL, an open forum, situational analysis and discussion of common situations of the different locations, a planning session based on recommendations from the participants, and making group action plans.

The first of series of consultations done with IP groups was last September 15 in Malibcong, Abra was attended by the Vanao, Mabaka and Gubang tribes, barangay officials and health workers from Taripan, Duladulao, Poblacion, Gakab, Binasaran, Mataragan, Pacgued and Buanao), and high school student representatives from Sta. Theresa High School.

The next consultation was held last September 24, 2009 in Lamao, Bucloc, Abra. This consultation was attended by Municipal and Barangay officials, representatives from the Philippine National Police, elders, and from the women sector. This was followed by a consultation with the IP chieftains of Dumagat and barangay councillors from Montalban, Rizal last October 1, 2009.

The last leg of the consultation series were held last October 28 in Botolan, Zambales and last November 16-17, 2009 in Matalahib, Tarlac City which was attended by IPs of Botolan and Capas, Tarlac.

One of the major outputs from this series was the agreement to hold a general assembly among the Indigenous Peoples of Luzon which was consequently done last November 10-11, 2009 in Quezon City. This led to the establishment of the IPNet (Indigenous People’s Network for Ancestral Domain and Peace), the formulation of its Vision, Mission and Goals, the formation of its organizational structure as well as the mapping of their initial activities and action plans and crafting of their proposal.

IPNet is now working on their registration with the SEC with the assistance of the Sulong CARHRIHL network. Their initial plans for 2010 is to promote capacity-building through trainings for the five expansion areas, conduct a general assembly in its five area clusters and to build its network at the local level by tapping other sectoral groups, LGU, local and national government agencies and other service providers.