Legal and policy research institution Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) has launched the 2022 State of the Indigenous Peoples Address (SIPA) Report today, revealing that 49% or half of all Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs) are embroiled in environmentally destructive projects. The threats were found to cover at least 1.25 million hectares, equivalent to 21% of the total area of all CADTs.
“We found that half of all approved large-scale mining contracts and a whopping 87% of all large-scale logging projects are within or close to registered ancestral domains. Protecting ancestral domains and their natural defenses to extreme climate impacts is urgently needed if we are to rise above the climate emergency we are already experiencing now,” said Atty. Mai Taqueban, executive director of LRC.
The report findings further showed that despite their territories having an estimated forest ecosystem value of P1.1 trillion annually, three in every four indigenous persons remain among the poorest 40% of Filipinos. IPs were also found facing significant socio-economic gaps in accessing education, public health, water and electricity, and other public services.
“The exploitation and commoditization of nature is sadly an enduring framework to managing our natural resources. This is contrary to indigenous peoples’ conception of development. Not only has this marginalized them, it has also worsened their human rights situation, for many of them naturally oppose these projects. What they have been clamoring for is support for their own development plans, anchored in their right to self-determination,” Taqueban said.
The report highlighted ongoing struggles of indigenous communities against extractive projects, such as the water woes experienced by the Tuwali people from the operations of the Oceanagold copper-gold project in Barangay Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya. Protesting the depletion and pollution of water and its impacts on their farmlands, they have been repeatedly met with a history of violence and human rights violations.
“Indigenous peoples have declared they will pursue an IP agenda under the new government. They called for a harmonization of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act with natural resource and other laws affecting IPs. They also enjoined government to fast track the issuance of CADTs. Indigenous peoples’ enjoyment of their rights is premised on their right to land,” Taqueban said.
SIPA 2022 was launched with the UN COP27 climate negotiations just around the corner, with the intent of urging both local and world leaders to support indigenous actions to address the climate crisis.