In 2018, 30 land and environmental defenders were murdered in the Philippines, making it the country with the highest number of killings like this in the world. In 2019, this number grew to 49 killings, as farmers and agricultural workers remained the most targeted, representing 63% of deaths, followed by government officials - 22%; indigenous people - 20%; and forest rangers - 13%.
The Indigenous People represent nearly 14% of the country’s population. They are among the poorest and the most disadvantaged social groups in the country, with higher rates of illiteracy, unemployment and rates of poverty than the rest of the population. IP (Indigenous Peoples) settlements are remote, often lack access to basic services, and are characterized by a high rates of disease and malnutrition.
The Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines remain as the most marginalized sector of society. This status continues despite the improvements achieved by communities, partners and advocates through years of struggle. In 1997, as a result of the sustained advocacy of the IP sector and its partners, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) was enacted. This provided a legal backbone for the recognition of the Traditional Rights of communities over their ancestral lands.
Relation to the climate crisis
A vast majority of the 12 Million population of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines reside in the uplands which they claim as part of their traditional territories. Most of the remaining natural resources in the country are found within the traditional lands of the Indigenous Peoples.
Big brands and companies involved in the areas above are launching attacks on climate activists. Household brands like Del Monte Philippines, Dole Philippines, and San Miguel Corporation are all linked to the local partners accused of attacking and murdering protesters.
When the country was colonized by the Spain, all land regulations made by indigenous groups were taken away. Now, only individuals and corporations are allowed to register for land ownership, restricting indigenous peoples’ access to their own land.
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