Opening address at the forum on peace in the context of indigenous peoples participation and consultation/advancing the promotion of the ILO Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169)

By Mr Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the forum on peace in the context of indigenous peoples participation and consultation/advancing the promotion of the ILO Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169), Quezon City, Philippines, 7 February 2013

Statement | Quezon City, Philippines | 07 February 2013
  • Chairperson Pawid, commissioners and officials of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples,
  • Indigenous peoples representatives – Timuay Alim Bandara, Professor Daguit, Datu Omao, Datu Al Saliling
  • Ambassador Domecq of the Embassy of Spain,
  • Attorney Candelaria of the Ateneo Law School, with whom we are launching the comparative study,
  • Speakers, facilitators and members of the panel – Mr de Vera, Mr Abadiano and Ms Cajandig,
  • Partners from the government, workers and employers organizations, civil society and the international community,
  • Representatives and colleagues from the UN Inter Agency Technical Working Group on Indigenous Peoples including Ms Daniels of the UNFPA,
  • My colleague, Albert, Senior Specialist on Indigenous Peoples from ILO Geneva,
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat (good morning to all of you)!
It is an honour for me to be with you in today’s roundtable discussion. As many of you may recall, the first roundtable discussion in 2011, tackled key steps for a more effective
multi-sectoral convergence and culture-sensitivity in the delivery of services to indigenous peoples.

This was an initial step to enhance attainment of rights by indigenous peoples in the Philippines.

Community-driven convergence and culture-sensitivity in the delivery of services to indigenous peoples are founded on the core principles of consultation and participation.

These principles are enshrined in the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention or what we call Convention 169, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Today, we come together again to assess ways of strengthening the Philippines’ legal framework on indigenous peoples with ILO Convention 169.

Once ratified, the Convention is the only legally binding international instrument for the protection of the rights of the indigenous and tribal peoples. The Philippines has yet to ratify the Convention, but has in the meantime enacted the IPRA.

The IPRA is seen by many, as a landmark piece of legislation that reflects the aspiration of indigenous peoples. IPRA implementation has achieved gains, but its implementation continues to face challenges. Thus, there are added values in ratifying ILO Convention 169, such as reinforcing implementation of the IPRA and the UNDRIP by bringing in the ILO’s supervisory mechanisms to track results; putting the Philippines in a position to receive ILO technical assistance; providing international platform to feature the Philippines’ unique legal and policy framework on indigenous peoples; involving workers and employers organizations on indigenous peoples’ issues to enhance access to decent work and legal security for private or public investments.

Today’ discussion gives an opportunity to assess and to reflect on the benefits of the Convention as well as to address concerns related to its ratification.
Through collaboration, we can map a way forward.

The second day of the roundtable discussion will focus on the Mindanao Peace process and assess windows of opportunities for indigenous peoples. The signing of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro is a key milestone in peace building efforts achieved through years of negotiation and dialogue.

The ILO can never overstate the importance of dialogue in conflict resolution since it was created in 1919 to reflect the belief that universal and lasting peace can be achieved if it is based on social justice.

The real challenge is how the signed peace framework can bring lasting peace and sustainable growth in Mindanao where many indigenous peoples live. There are explicit provisions in the peace framework, which will be presented in detail in this forum.

These provisions and many others are opportunities and entry points for indigenous peoples’ participation and contribution towards better implementation.

ILO Convention 169 has been proven as a unique tool for conflict resolution involving indigenous peoples. It’s been featured as a key demand in several peace accords and has guided implementation of national processes aiming at reconciling States with their indigenous populations, as it has for instance happened in Guatemala and Norway.

We believe that indigenous peoples are key drivers towards achieving sustainable, inclusive and greener growth. In fact, the Philippine Development Plan recognized the need to support indigenous peoples’ agenda with their limited access to sustainable livelihood and basic services.

IPRA, UNDRIP and ILO Convention 169 would provide a reinforced legal framework and facilitate the implementation of the Mindanao peace agreement to ensure participation and consultation with indigenous peoples.

The ILO is honoured to contribute to the current process and stands ready to help in any way possible for better dialogue and participation of indigenous peoples.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples for organizing and bringing you all together to this forum.

Thank you for your interest to be part of the discussion. I wish you success as I look forward to the results of this forum.

Thank you and Mabuhay!