Press Release
August 29, 2011

Legarda to Gather Indigenous Peoples (IPs) from All Over the Country

Senator Loren Legarda is organizing a gathering of indigenous peoples (IPs) from all over the country, the first IndigenousCultural Summit, which aims to be a mechanism to strengthen the voices of the IP leaders as they engage in dialogue with local and national policy-makers as well as international institutions.

Prior to the Indigenous Cultural Summit, which will be held at the Old Senate Building on October 13-14, 2011 there will be three regional assemblies to be held in Baguio (for Luzon) on September 9-10; Davao del Norte (for Mindanao) on September 16-17; and Iloilo City (for the Visayas), September 23-24.

Senator Legarda said 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 cited during a privilege speech at the Senate.

"As the nation moves forward and pursues a path of progress, policy-makers have the responsibility to recognize the special needs of approximately 17% of the population, our brothers and sisters who are members of indigenous cultural communities. Their unique situation and needs should be an important part of public discourse," she added.

Organized in coordination with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Tourism, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, International Labor Organization and various other partners, the Indigenous Cultural Summit will serve as a platform to identify the concerns of our IPs, help address their needs through legislation and government initiatives and empower them as they seek to preserve their cultural integrity and achieve the sustainable development of their ancestral lands.

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