Press Release
September 5, 2011

Legarda Gathers Indigenous Peoples of Luzon on Sept 9-10

Senator Loren Legarda, the chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, will lead the assembly of indigenous peoples (IPs) of Luzon at the Quezon Hall, Teacher's Camp in Baguio City on September 9-10, 2011.

"This will serve as a forum to consult our IPs whether our proposed legislative measures will adequately address the challenges they face," said Legarda.

Among the Luzon IP groups participating in the said assembly are the Isneg, Bago, Tingguian, Kankanaey, Iwak, Ibatan, Agta, Itawes, Tuwali, Gaddang, Kankanaey, Bugkalot, Ayangan, Tiblac, Ivatan and the Dumagat.

Also invited to participate are the Cordillera Administrative Region's (CAR) and Region I to V's regional directors of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Justice (DOJ), among other national government agencies.

Chair Zenaida Brigida Hamada-Pawid of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) will deliver the welcome remarks. Senator Loren Legarda will deliver an opening speech and will moderate in the open forum.

On the second day of the assembly, there will be special presentations by expert resource speakers. Atty. Sedfrey Candelaria, associate dean of the Ateneo de Manila Law School and director of the Katutubo Desk of the Ateneo Human Rights Division will make a presentation on the ILO Convention 169: Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention; Chairman Felipe de Leon of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) will present Sustainable Management of Schools of Living Tradition and Mr. Amos Beta-a, manager of Bakun Indigenous Tribe Organization will present Success Stories on Community Initiatives

In a recent privilege speech at the Senate, Legarda emphasized that despite significant strides in protecting the rights of our IPs over the past twenty years, poverty, malnutrition and lack of access to basic healthcare and education disproportionately haunt indigenous communities in the country.

"The United Nations estimates that the life expectancy of a person belonging to these communities is up to 20 years shorter than that of the general population. These communities persist to experience higher levels of maternal and infant mortality and prevalence of diseases such as tuberculosis," Legarda said.

"Their unique situation and needs should be an important part of public discourse," Legarda stressed.

The said assembly--along with the assembly of IPs of the Visayas which will be held in Iloilo City on September 23-24 and the assembly of IPs of Mindanao which will be held in Davao del Norte on September 16-17--is a prelude to the Indigenous Cultural Summit in Manila on October 13-14., 2011.

Legarda concluded, "This forthcoming IP assembly in Baguio aims to be a mechanism to strengthen the voices of Luzon's IPs as they engage in dialogue with local and national policy-makers as well as international institutions."

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