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Climate Justice Is Not Possible Without The Indigenous Peoples Heroes – IP Groups

Quezon City, Philippines — Indigenous Peoples (IP), environmental groups, and advocates joined #KliMalaya Climate Walk as part of the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice on November 6. They highlighted the legacy of our Indigenous heroes in addressing the climate emergency.

Paraded in the climate justice protest are six giant portraits of Indigenous Heroes and martyrs including Tamblot of Bohol, a babaylan who fought against Spanish colonialism, Igorot leader Ama Macli-ing Dulag, who led the anti-Chico Dam fight, Cordillera Igorot leader Petra Macli-ing, Dumagat martyr Nicanor delos Santos, who defended the Sierra Madre from mega-dams, Emerito Samarca, slain Lumad school director, and Nelson Mallari, an Aeta farmer and staunch anti-mining leader.

“We are mainly indebted to our Indigenous heroes for keeping our mountains, rivers, and forests in our country alive. They are the frontliners in protecting our environment and keeping the rich biodiversity of our mountains and rivers. This is why we honor our Indigenous heroes and martyrs for offering their lives and their strength to defend the environment and their ancestral lands. It is their very life,” said Kakay Tolentino, National Coordinator, BAI Indigenous Women’s Network.

“A sure death for Mother Earth will be killing the environment’s Indigenous Peoples guardians and stewards,” Eloisa Mesina, National Spokesperson, Kabataan para sa Tribung Pilipino. Sandugo reports attacks against Indigenous Peoples from 2016 to early 2021: 92 extrajudicial killings, 160 frustrated extrajudicial killings, 6 enforced disappearances, 227 illegal arrests, detention and abduction, and 27 torture.

“The Indigenous Peoples are at the forefront in the defense of the environment. They have the least contributions to greenhouse emissions, yet they are the most affected and most marginalized during calamities,” said Tyrone Beyer of the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights.

“At the core of these attacks on our Indigenous leaders and communities is their resistance to destructive projects and resource exploitation of mountains and rivers covering their ancestral lands,” Prince Albert Solomon Turtogo, National Coordinator, Panaghiusa Philippine Network to Uphold Indigenous Peoples Rights added.

Under the Duterte administration, destructive development projects, such as the Kaliwa-Kanan-Laiban Dam and the hydropower plants set to be built in the Cordillera, and mining operations continue despite their possible impacts on the environment and on the rights of Indigenous communities.

“Addressing the issues of climate and environment will take more than promises and lip service from our government who are now acting as enablers of foreign and local projects that endangers mother nature. IP should be part of the dialogues, not silenced and harassed. We demand decisive actions now. It needs to stop the attacks on Indigenous peoples and implement a moratorium on all destructive projects on ancestral lands,” Rei Paulin, National Coordinator, Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayang ng Pilipinas added.

“Inidgenous peoples speak beyond climate change. Its systems change that must flourish for climate justice to thrive. Climate change, systems change, disaster risk reduction and its relationship with biodiversity conservation cannot be divorced or understood in isolation with indigenous peoples’ traditional governance systems. If the world is serious in addressing climate change, it only has to respect the human rights of indigenous peoples living in these territories. After all, 80% of the planet’s biodiversity are located within indigenous peoples’ territories,” said Giovanni Reyes, President, ICCA Philippines.

“Today’s action is an invitation and challenge to everyone to understand more about our Indigenous Peoples heroes and link with our indigenous communities to advocate for their land, rights and lives,” Beverly Longid, Global Secretariat of International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) said.

On November 10, Philippine-based IP groups and advocates will again mobilize to celebrate the International Indigenous Peoples Heroes Day. The global celebration initiated by the International IPMSDL aims to honor IP heroes, martyrs, organizations and communities, departed and living individuals who contributed in advancing IP culture, rights defense of ancestral lands and the environment.

“It’s an honor for us painters and artists to share our talent for our IP heroes and leaders. I hope this would be the start of many more collaborations between artists and IP groups and communities to amplify their plight. As artists there is really so much more to learn about their history and struggles,” said Lans Tolda, a Quezon-based visual artist, member of Guni-Guri Artist Collective and one of the contributing painters for the IP Heroes portraits.

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