Saint Louis University
School of Law
The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act: Its Provisions, Implementation and Effectiveness
Arios, Diero Thomas
Dinos, Aurea Valerie
Paraan, Brian Jonathan
Vehemente, Joseph Harvey
Atty. Jennifer Asuncion
Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous People are found in various places and are one of the most marginalized groups in the world. With the Philippines as a country which has multiple Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous People, their rights and subsequently their obligations pursuant to their right to self-determination. In 1987 the Philippines adopted a new Constitution which provided, as a State Policy, found in Article II, Section 22 that “The State recognizes and promotes the rights of indigenous cultural communities within the framework of national unity and development.” Pursuant to this state policy the Congress of the Philippines passed Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act which provided for the rights of the Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous People in the Philippines. This paper aims to ascertain whether the rights of these Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous People are properly respected and to see the effect of Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous People Rights act on the Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous People themselves, the rest of the Philippine population, and the Government of the Philippines.
International Standards for Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples
Worldwide there are around 300-500 million indigenous people and all share the common characteristic that all of them are deeply spiritually attached to their ancestral lands and that they are stewards thereof. This spiritual attachment stems from the fact that they identify themselves mainly through there genealogical descent from their ancestral lands and that as stewards of the lands, they cannot live without which (Gocke, 2013).
With their overwhelming presence internationally, their common characteristics have been identified by Duffy (2008) as the following:
1. Indigenous peoples are the original inhabitants of territories subsequently invaded by external forces, who retain some kind of connection to their homeland, whether it is physical, cultural or metaphysical. 2. Indigenous peoples self-identify as peoples or tribes distinct from other societies. 3. Indigenous peoples are culturally (economically, politically, socially or linguistically) diﬀerent from the dominant culture that prevails in the same territory or nearby territories. 4. Indigenous peoples’ eﬀorts to preserve culture, a connection to land and identity are contested as a result of impinging material and economic interests of states and others.
From these characteristics it can be clearly seen that there is a deep connection between the Indigenous people and their ancestral lands as it is where they base their origins and identity and that the preservation of their ancestral lands are related to their growth both culturally and economically. The aforementioned characteristics may also be considered as the determining factors of Indigenous Peoples right to self-determination.
The rights of Indigenous People have been discussed by various local and international organizations. One of the first bodies to recognize the rights of the Indigenous People is the International Labor Organization (ILO), who adopted the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention in 1957, the main feature of this convention is that it sought for the integration of the Indigenous People, who were considered as less advanced communities that would not be able to adapt to modernization, with the majority population of the State in which they are found (Organization, 1957). The Organization of American States (OSA) in 1996 included...
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