• UN official criticizes Aquino over IPs

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    DAVAO CITY: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons expressed concern over the plight of over 700 displaced indigenous people (IPs) from Davao del Norte and Bukidnon who were recently subjected to an attempted forced eviction from their temporary shelter.

    Dr. Chaloka Beyani said it was “striking” for him that the IPs “have been particularly vulnerable to conflict-induced displacement in many regions, particularly in Mindanao.”

    The IPs left their homes because they fear the military and that members of the paramilitary, Alamara, are recruiting them.

    Massive displacements of IPs also happened in the provinces of Bukidnon, Surigao, and Agusan.

    Beyani met with IP leaders and military officials to discuss the issue of massive displacement of IPs.

    He was told by military officials that they are “seeking to protect the communities and provide services to them in conflict regions.”

    However, their presence and that of the paramilitary groups is a source of anxiety.

    “The community wishes to return to its lands, but [they]stressed to me that they will only feel safe to do so if the long-term militarization of their region comes to an end and they can return with guarantees of safety, dignity and protection,” he said.

    “It is essential to find a rapid and peaceful solution to their situation in full consultation with their legitimate leaders, with their voluntary and secure return to their ancestral lands being a high priority,” he said.

    The Aquino government, he said, must consult with the IPs to “give greater attention to addressing the causes of displacement whether it be due to the militarization of their areas or due to development projects.”

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