AN APPEAL TO PRESIDENT AQUINO AND THE LAWMAKERS
PROTECT THE IDPs, STRENGTHEN DURABLE SOLUTIONS
For many decades now, the communities in many parts of Mindanao have repeatedly experienced armed conflict and militarization resulting to their forced evacuation and displacement from their homelands. Thousands of indigenous peoples, pastoralists, and land tillers in other parts of the country have also been involuntarily separated from their farms and ancestral domain due to social violence and intrusion of exploitative big business and extractive industries. Moreover, the recurrence of extreme weather events and destructive geological and oceanic phenomenon aggravated by climate change have made many communities vulnerable to producing more “disaster IDPs” in the country.
These socio-natural and human made displacement drivers have brought the Philippines in the list of countries that have recorded the most number of internally displaced persons around the world. This was confirmed by the 2013 report of the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) that cited the Philippines as the country that have produced that most number of IDPs in 2013 ( 7,227,969 individuals) due to the Zamboanga Siege, the Bohol Earthquake and the super typhoon Haiyan combined.
There is no doubt that internal displacement brings suffering and losses. It is one of the most palpable human rights challenge in the Philippines today as much as it is a humanitarian issue and a socio-political concern as well. The Philippines is a signature to a number of International Treaty and Conventions such as the International Humanitarian Law and the Human Rights Law. However, durable solutions to internal displacement remain wanting. A national legal framework that protects IDPs in accordance with the tenets of the United Nation Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (UNGPID) is yet to be put in place as well.
In this regard, we, the participants to the Forum on Institutionalizing IDP Protection in the Philippines, strongly urge President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and the Senate to enact the Rights of the Internally Displaced Persons Act (RIDPA) now, continue the efforts to put a just conclusion to the peace processes, such as by passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law, and strengthen a sound disaster risk reduction and management platform towards the building of a peaceful disaster-resilient communities.