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GIS EXCLUSIVE: Civic leader Samira Gutoc-Tomawis eyes aid for internally displaced, indigenous people if she wins Senate seat

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, January 18th, 2019

Civic leader Samira Gutoc-Tomawis

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — Civic leader Samira Gutoc-Tomawis admitted that her bid for the senatorial race in the 2019 midterm elections was an accident.

In an interview with the program Get It Straight with Daniel Razon on Friday (January 18), the senatorial hopeful said she was pressed to enter politics because of her experiences during the terrorist takeover of Marawi City in 2017 wherein she and her family were among the victims.

Samira served for one year as an assembly woman under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III and stayed for three more months under the Duterte administration.

She was a former member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) but left the commission when she realized that some policies of the administration are not aligned with her principles.

“Hindi man lang ako natanong at ako ang nagseserbisyo sa gobyerno…,’What shall we do Sam?’ Gumagawa ka ng batas. Ano ang gagawin natin ngayon na nagkakagulo mismo sa tabi ng bahay mo?” she lamented when asked why she left the administration.

Among her priorities when elected in Senate is the passage of the proposed Internally Displaced Persons Bill that will provide shelter and livelihood programs for those affected by strife and calamities.

“Ang pinakamalaking problema ng Pilipinas is disaster from nature, climate, refugee phenomenon. So marami pong biktima ng flooding, etc. So anong programa natin for proteksyon nila, housing nila,” she said.

Aside from that, Samira also eyes measures that will provide education and other assistance to indigenous people which count for almost 20 million of the country’s population.

“Dapat may trabaho sila. Hindi sila dinidiskrimina dahil sa tribo sila,” she argued.

“It’s pending, iyong anti-discrimination bill. Ang adbokasiya na lang ay iyong nasa mga nasa baba. Bawat isang probinsya ay nagkakaroon na ng anti-discrimination bill,” she said referring to a measure that already exists in different countries.

She opposes the Duterte administration with its declaration of martial law in Mindanao; its proposal for a Federal shift; the proposed re-institution of death penalty; and Duterte’s war on drugs specifically the Oplan Tokhang because she believes that a drug dependent still deserves a chance for rehabilitation.

However, she has in her platform of government proposals to resume peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

She also vowed to push for subsidy for abused overseas Filipino workers once elected in Senate. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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‘Kaliwa Dam project will destroy us, our homes’ —Dumagat tribe

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, March 22nd, 2019

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Indigenous people’s (IP) group in Infanta, Quezon province and in Tanay, Rizal traveled to the city to air their grievances against the construction of the controversial Kaliwa Dam project.

The Kaliwa Dam project is being eyed as solution to the recurring problems in water supply in Metro Manila that has been triggered by the persistent El Niño.

Carrying empty pails and water gallons, the Dumagats, led by Marcelino Tena, call on the government to stop the project as it would affect thousands of lives and would destroy the serenity of the Sierra Madre mountain range.

The group argued that aside from losing their livelihood, the project would pose great danger to the environment as it would increase the risk of flooding and landslide in addition to the damaging effects of global warming.

The indigenous group also denounced the idea that the project is the only solution to the recurring water crisis because the water level in Angat Dam, the main source of water in Metro Manila, remains normal.

But the MWSS maintained that experts already proved the efficiency and safety of the dam’s construction therefore, the IPs in the area have nothing to worry about.

Kaliwa Dam is a 73-meter water project to be erected in the mountains if Infanta, Quezon.

From Infanta, Quezon, a tunnel will be constructed towards Teresa town in Rizal where a water treatment facility will be erected.

The dam is expected to augment water supply in Metro Manila.

The project is worth US$248 million equivalent to P14.5 billion and will be funded under the Chinese Official Development Assistance. – Marje Pelayo (with details from Joan Nano)

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DENR’s ICCA project seen to protect 10M indigenous people

by admin   |   Posted on Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

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The government aims to strengthen its programs that will take care of the indigenous people (IP) in the Philippines.

Ifugao lone district representative Teddy Baguilat said, there are around 10 million indigenous people in the country that need the attention of the government.

“Ten percent of the population is IP. We have a hundred ten ethnolinguistic tribes all over the Philippines from Cordillera to Mindanao,” Rep. Baguilat said.

Around 1.44 million hectares of land that belong to the indigenous community are located in protected areas.

Through the Philippine Indigenous Communities Conservation Areas (ICCA) project, IP’s will be protected and their culture, preserved.

Baguilat said, expulsion of indigenous people in most cases is related to mining.

The Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997 gives indigenous people the right to preserve their community in their own way.

“Just a recognition from the government that there are lands, seas or forests that are best protected by the ethnic groups,” added Baguilat.  — Rey Pelayo | UNTV News & Rescue

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De Lima questions PNP accountability over IP rallyist dispersal

by admin   |   Posted on Thursday, October 20th, 2016

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Militant groups and indigenous people staged a protest on Wednesday,  to air their grievances against military operations in Lumad communities.

Members of Armed Forces of the Philippines blasted water cannons to disperse rallyists in front of Camp Aguinaldo yesterday. While policemen clashed with protesters in a violent dispersal outside the United States embassy this morning.  Rallyists and policemen were reportedly hurt in the incident.

Senator De Lima reacts to the said dispersals and calls on PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa to “identify the lapses, and enforce command responsibility in exacting accountability from the concerned officials involved in the dispersals.”

Here is the full statement of Senator Leila de Lima regarding these incidents.

STATEMENT OF SEN. LEILA M. DE LIMA ON THE DISPERSAL OF IP RALLYISTS

“I am deeply concerned over the recent dispersals of rallying Indigenous Peoples (IPs) at Camp Aguinaldo yesterday and the US Embassy this morning. These two incidents may have gone beyond the allowable methods prescribed by law.
“The lands of IPs have been taken away from them; they have become victims of militarization and development aggression. They marched here to let their concerns be heard by the government and the general public.
“Considered as minorities in society, these IPs were merely exercising their right to peaceably assemble as guaranteed and protected by the 1987 Constitution. They have every right to air their grievances; and no one can take that right away from them. Our government should accord these IP with compassion and respect, instead of water cannons and patrol trucks as weapons of violent dispersal, as reported by news agencies .
“It is clear in the PNP Manual of Operations that non-lethal methods shall be used to disperse such assemblies. It is quite obvious that the method used, particularly at this morning’s assembly at the US Embassy, is obviously unnecessary and unreasonable, even if when a non-weapon was used. There is no excuse to use such dispersal, as the rallyists were clearly unarmed.
 “We must not lose sight of the fact that the assigned PNP units attempted to disperse the rally through unnecessary force. I call on PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa to look into this incident, identify the lapses, and enforce command responsibility in exacting accountability from the concerned officials involved in the dispersals.”
— UNTV News and Rescue
 

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