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At a convention in Kalinga over 800 indigenous peoples came to strategize on how best to win a seat in congress for the upcoming partylist elections. Their partylist, Katribu, is a national democratic grass-roots partylist which fights for the rights and welfare of indigenous Filipinos around the archipelago:
Delegates shared inspiring speeches, cultural presentations and advise to their fellow indigenous peoples for them to gain strength in gearing towards the election campaign.
They said that lessons were already learned in the past election.
“The lack of resources, not enough time to popularize the partylist and the presence of threats among the campaigners of Katribu were the factors that caused the defeat,” Beverly Longid, the National president and 1st nominee of the said partylist stressed in her speech. She added that these factors are still present up to this time but the good thing is, they had three years to prove their worth as champion of IP rights and welfare.
“Baka met gapu iti naregta ken naganas a panagkampanya tayo itatta, diay kurang tayo a botos idi 2010 ket isu metten ti sobra tayo itatta a 2013,” (Perhaps, with our persistent and lively campaign, our lacking votes in 2010 will be our excess this 2013) Longid added. It is then a challenge for Katribu Kalinga to maintain their rank as number 1 partylist last election and increase the number of votes. “Let us ensure that majority of our tribes mate in the province will vote for Katribu,” she stressed which was welcomed by a warm applause.
Aside from threats that were experienced by the campaigners of the partylist, the consistent effort of the reactionary forces to demonize KATRIBU and other progressive partylists was evident. Andres Wailan of Apit Tako said that last election campaign, there were posters seen covering their campaign posters telling not to vote for the said partylist because it is a front of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New Peoples Army (CPP-NPA). However, he said that the people should not be cowed by these acts. He further said that in order ensure that IP will win a representation in Congress; the people should overcome fear and be creative in the methods of campaign.
“Datayo nga IPs nga maiwalwalin, saan tayo kuma nga ipalubos nga maiwalin tayo into no May 2013 election,” (We IPs who are marginalized cannot afford to be marginalized this coming May 2013 election) the delegate added.
Roger Bun-as from the Municipality of Lubuagan said that there is no partylist that will represent the welfare of the minority population of the nation other than Katribu that is why he encouraged all the participants to resolutely campaign it until victory is attained.
Katribu, Sawadan said has helped the society in various ways even without having a seat in the country’s highest legislative body. One of which he said is helping the creation of the Peoples’ Mining Bill which is a suggested Bill that will change the blood stained Philippine Mining Act of 1995. It had also participated in Senate consultations of the Anti Discrimination Bill, pushed for anti vilification bill in Congress, participated in the revision of the free prior and informed consent guidelines of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) at the same time called for the total reform of the said commission and for the punishment of its officials who violated the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.
Moreover, the partylist helped in pushing for the resumption of peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPh). It has called for the active participation of the indigenous peoples in the said talks that resulted to the creation of the NDF Technical Working Group. It suggested a section on indigenous peoples and Moro in the drafting of the second substantive agenda of the peace process which is the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio Economic Reforms (CASER). It had lead joint GRP-NDFP consultations among the IPs.