Sunday, August 19, 2007

Are Ilocanos, Pampangos, Tagalogs, Batanguenos, Naguenos, Cebuanos "Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines?"

NO, definitely NOT, according to the Supreme Court in a December, 2000 Decision (ISAGANI CRUZ and CESAR EUROPA versus CHAIRMAN and COMMISSIONERS OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES et al, respondents ) upholding the Constitutionality of Indigenous People's Rights Act of 1997 by a 7 to 7 vote that ended up dismissing the prayer for mandamus and prohibition against IPRA--because of the tie!

In the Opinion rendered by now Chief Justice Reynato Puno for the seven prevailing justices (also the source of the Philippines Ancient History quoted in yesterday's post) , we find the exact definition and official list of the Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines:
Indigenous Cultural Communities/ Indigenous Peoples-- refer to a group of people or homogeneous societies identified by self-ascription and ascription by others, who have continuously lived as organized community on communally bounded and defined territory, and who have, under claims of ownership since time immemorial, occupied, possessed and utilized such territories, sharing common bonds of language, customs, traditions and other distinctive cultural traits, or who have, through resistance to political, social and cultural inroads of colonization, non-indigenous religions and cultures, became historically differentiated from the majority of Filipinos. ICCs/IPs shall likewise include peoples who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, at the time of conquest or colonization, or at the time of inroads of non-indigenous religions and cultures, or the establishment of present state boundaries, who retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions, but who may have been displaced from their traditional domains or who may have resettled outside their ancestral domains."
Indigenous Cultural Communities or Indigenous Peoples refer to a group of people or homogeneous societies who have continuously lived as an organized community on communally bounded and defined territory. These groups of people have actually occupied, possessed and utilized their territories under claim of ownership since time immemorial. They share common bonds of language, customs, traditions and other distinctive cultural traits, or, they, by their resistance to political, social and cultural inroads of colonization, non-indigenous religions and cultures, became historically differentiated from the Filipino majority. ICCs/IPs also include descendants of ICCs/IPs who inhabited the country at the time of conquest or colonization, who retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions but who may have been displaced from their traditional territories or who may have resettled outside their ancestral domains.
1. Indigenous Peoples: Their History
Presently, Philippine indigenous peoples inhabit the interiors and mountains of Luzon, Mindanao, Mindoro, Negros, Samar, Leyte, and the Palawan and Sulu group of islands. They are composed of 110 tribes and are as follows:
1. In the Cordillera Autonomous Region-- Kankaney, Ibaloi, Bontoc, Tinggian or Itneg, Ifugao, Kalinga, Yapayao, Aeta or Agta or Pugot, and Bago of Ilocos Norte and Pangasinan; Ibanag of Isabela, Cagayan; Ilongot of Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya; Gaddang of Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Itawis of Cagayan; Ivatan of Batanes, Aeta of Cagayan, Quirino and Isabela.
2. In Region III-- Aetas.
3. In Region IV-- Dumagats of Aurora, Rizal; Remontado of Aurora, Rizal, Quezon; Alangan or Mangyan, Batangan, Buid or Buhid, Hanunuo and Iraya of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro; Tadyawan of Occidental Mindoro; Cuyonon, Palawanon, Tagbanua and Tao't bato of Palawan.
4. In Region V-- Aeta of Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur; Aeta-Abiyan, Isarog, and Kabihug of Camarines Norte; Agta, and Mayon of Camarines Sur; Itom of Albay, Cimaron of Sorsogon; and the Pullon of Masbate and Camarines Sur.
5. In Region VI-- Ati of Negros Occidental, Iloilo and Antique, Capiz; the Magahat of Negros Occidental; the Corolano and Sulod.
6. In Region VII-- Magahat of Negros Oriental and Eskaya of Bohol.
7. In Region IX-- the Badjao numbering about 192,000 in Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Sur; the Kalibugan of Basilan, the Samal, Subanon and Yakat.
8. Region X-- Numbering 1.6 million in Region X alone, the IPs are: the Banwaon, Bukidnon, Matigsalog, Talaanding of Bukidnon; the Camiguin of Camiguin Island; the Higa-unon of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon and Misamis Occidental; the Tigwahanon of Agusan del Sur, Misamis Oriental and and Misamis Occidental, the Manobo of the Agusan provinces, and the Umayamnon of Agusan and Bukidnon.
9. In Region XI-- There are about 1,774,065 IPs in Region XI. They are tribes of the Dibabaon, Mansaka of Davao del Norte; B'laan, Kalagan, Langilad, T'boli and Talaingod of Davao del Sur; Mamamanua of Surigao del Sur; Mandaya of the Surigao provinces and Davao Oriental; Manobo Blit of South Cotabato; the Mangguangon of Davao and South Cotabato; Matigsalog of Davao del Norte and Del Sur; Tagakaolo, Tasaday and Ubo of South Cotabato; and Bagobo of Davao del sur and South Cotabato.
10. In Region XII-- Ilianen, Tiruray, Maguindanao, Maranao, Tausug, Yakan/Samal, and Iranon.
Here is the amazing thing--The NON-INDIGENOUS peoples of the Philippines, according to this Supreme Court decision are all the CHRISTIAN Filipinos, those very Ilocanos, Pampangos, Tagalogs, Cebuanos, etc. in this post's title.

This decision is clearly in violation of the equal protection principles of the Constitution, and most especially Separation of Church and State and the Bill of Rights on guarantees of religious freedom and equality before the Law.

Let me say it as plainly as I can.

The Supreme Court decided in Cruz vs. NCIP that:

ALL 110 officially designated Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines are non-Christian minorities.

NONE of the 110 officially designated Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines come from its Catholic majority populations and ethnic groups.

The officially designated IPs are all deemed to own "by native title" ancestral lands and domains, which their descendants now own. But the NON-IPs have no such lands or rights.

The difference is whether the ancestors of any given living ethnic group succumbed to Western colonialism and became Catholics or not. Those that "resisted colonialism" and did not become Catholics are the "Indigenous Peoples". Those that did have none of the rights now given to the IPs.

But many of the IPs also succumbed to colonialism and forced religious conversion. When Islam came, it was no different from when Christianity the Sword and the Cross, or the Kris and the Crescent...soldiers and missionaries. But as long as the invaders were NOT Western, that group could still be considered an Indigenous People. That is how the Supreme Court crumbles the cookie.

Basically, ALL the Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines are those that supposedly did not succumb to Western Imperialism (such as the slave-raiding slave-trading Maguindanao and Sulu Confederacies that regularly invaded and pillaged the Visayas for centuries of certain Golden Age.)


Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, in a Separate Opinion on the Constitutionality of the IPRA Law, demolishes the ponencia of Chief Justice Reynato Puno:
(Concurring and Dissenting)
I concur with the draft ponencia of Mr. Justice Santiago M. Kapunan in its well-crafted handling of the procedural or preliminary issues. In particular, I agree that petitioners have shown an actual case or controversy involving at least two constitutional questions of transcendental importance,[1] which deserve judicious disposition on the merits directly by the highest court of the land.[2] Further, I am satisfied that the various aspects of this controversy have been fully presented and impressively argued by the parties. Moreover, prohibition and mandamus are proper legal remedies[3] to address the problems raised by petitioners. In any event, this Court has given due course to the Petition, heard oral arguments and required the submission of memoranda. Indeed, it would then be a galling copout for us to dismiss it on mere technical or procedural grounds.
Protection of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Must Be Within the Constitutional Framework
With due respect, however, I dissent from the ponencia’s resolution of the two main substantive issues, which constitute the core of this case. Specifically, I submit that Republic Act (RA) No. 8371, otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997, violates and contravenes the Constitution of the Philippines insofar as --
1. It recognizes or, worse, grants rights of ownership over “lands of the public domain, waters, x x x and other natural resources” which, under Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution, “are owned by the State” and “shall not be alienated.” I respectfully reject the contention that “ancestral lands and ancestral domains are not public lands and have never been owned by the State.” Such sweeping statement places substantial portions of Philippine territory outside the scope of the Philippine Constitution and beyond the collective reach of the Filipino people. As will be discussed later, these real properties constitute a third of the entire Philippine territory; and the resources, 80 percent of the nation's natural wealth.
2. It defeats, dilutes or lessens the authority of the State to oversee the “exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources,” which the Constitution expressly requires to “be under the full control and supervision of the State.”
True, our fundamental law mandates the protection of the indigenous cultural communities’ right to their ancestral lands, but such mandate is "subject to the provisions of this Constitution."[4] I concede that indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs) may be accorded preferential rights to the beneficial use of public domains, as well as priority in the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources. Such privileges, however, must be subject to the fundamental law.
Consistent with the social justice principle of giving more in law to those who have less in life, Congress in its wisdom may grant preferences and prerogatives to our marginalized brothers and sisters, subject to the irreducible caveat that the Constitution must be respected. I personally believe in according every benefit to the poor, the oppressed and the disadvantaged, in order to empower them to equally enjoy the blessings of nationhood. I cannot, however, agree to legitimize perpetual inequality of access to the nation's wealth or to stamp the Court's imprimatur on a law that offends and degrades the repository of the very authority of this Court -- the Constitution of the Philippines.


cvj said...

But DJB, correlation does not necessarily imply causation.

DJB Rizalist said...


The IPRA lists 110 Official Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines.

Why is not even ONE of the 110 Indigenous Peoples an ethnic group that self-ascribes to be Catholic?

Why are ALL the Indigenous Peoples explicitly non-Christianized minorities?

Help me out CVJ. This not a high level abstraction. There is a list of "INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THE PHILIPPINES" maintained by the NCIP and blessed by the Supreme Court.

Why are the "Tagalogs" not on that list of indigenous peoples? Or the Pampangos, Ilocanos, etc?

Why do the IPs now suddenly have the rights to millions of hectares of land, including a HOMELAND for one of those IPs?

Why are Tagalogs and Cebuanos not deserving of their own homelands and commonwealths.

Help me out. Am I going crazy like on Star Trek? It does not compute! Or am I just confused by the subtle difference between causation and 100% correlation?

Amadeo said...

Without even plodding through the legalese, those of us genetically involved in the understanding of the term, indigenous, share your confusion. As late as 1779, we can unmistakably trace our origins to a Muslim tribe, called Maranao for those residing in the Lanao provinces. But apart from that ethnic tie we have never considered ourselves indigenous, and you are partly right, after Christianization. Currently, indigenous peoples in Mindanao, collectively called lumads, may include certain numbers that may have been proselytized and converted to Christianity. But today, the differentiation may be more in things tangible, such as where and how they live, manner of dress, speech, and sadly but true, whether they are more uneducated, poorer and more dispossessed than the general population. And thus, many of the remaining Muslim communities are so classified because of these. And again, I reiterate that these classes constitute a rather small percentage of the entire population of Mindanao.

DJB Rizalist said...

But Amadeo, the proposed Muslim Juridical Entity will be in MAGUINDANAO!

The warlords of Sharif Aguak are not poor, either in dress, speech or money!

Yet the "homeland" that GMA proposes to be her legacy to them will be about 10 million hectares of sovereign Philippine territory.

I think the whole thing is a payoff for the elections!

Jaxius said...


the distinction may be rooted from the concept of what the Spaniards called "jura regalia" or regalian doctrine. It says that all public lands belong to the State. Under Spain then, all public lands were owned by the Spanish crown which subsequently were transferred to the Philippine State upon independence.

The "ancestral domains" are an exception to the regalian doctrine since these lands are considered of private ownership, i.e., lands that have been owned either in personal or communal since time immemorial.

DJB Rizalist said...

All your points of fact granted, why do the Tagalogs have no PRIVATE ancestral lands and domains? Nor Ilocanos, Pampangos and ALL Christianized tribes.

But before that, do you agree that as far as the Supreme Court is concerned, the TAGALOGS and PAMPANGOS are NOT indigenous peoples.

I just want a yes or no, please.

Jaxius said...


the first question is a why, so i cannot answer it with a simple yes and no.

As a group of people, the tagalogs have no claim of ancestral domain. Fact, they accepted subjugation by the Spaniards. They accepted Spain's laws on property and property acquisition.

As for an individual, a Tagalog can claim an ancestral domain if he can prove title to a private piece of land, ownership having vested prior to Spanish colonization and had been recognized by the colonialists. Take note that the regalian doctrine only applies to public lands.

As to the second question, i believe the SC got it right between the eyes.

DJB Rizalist said...

Jaxius, Never mind the WHYs and WHEREFORES, I would respectfully like to know WHICH of the following statements you agree with, (being mutually exclusive, it should be a simple choice:)

(1) The Tagalogs and Pampangos ARE indigenous peoples of the Philippines.

(2) The Tagalogs and Pampangos ARE NOT indigenous peoples of the Philippines.


DJB Rizalist said...

Hehe, I don't mean to be a stickler for the plain reading of a Supreme Court decision, but ideally the choice between Statements (1) and (2) must be based on the Definition of an IP and the Official List given by the Supreme Court as the groups fulfilling that definition.

My earlier WHY question has to do with why they don't think these groups meet the very definition they gave!

I think I can show that the decision is not internally consistent from a purely logical and categorical point of view.

The fact of subjugation by the spaniards is no different than subjugation by the successive waves of invaders that arrived, like the Sulu and Maguindanao slave raiding slave trading societies.

So why is Spanish Colonialism worse than Moro brigandage and human kidnap for sale?

Jaxius said...


hahaha. You are boxing the argument along the lines where you want them to. You seem to have picked up a trait from lawyers you so hate for meddling with the constitution.

Sorry, bro. Can't indulge you there.

DJB Rizalist said...

but you have to admit, it is a devastating reductio ad absurdum

And yes, it is a recent discovery, not from lawyers but from a plain and direct reading of the 100 page spectacle of politically correct but scientifically ludicrous decision of no less than Chief Justice Puno.

I urge everyone to read it carefully and critically!

Try to keep a straight face everyone!

Jaxius said...


I've never heard of a devastating reductio ad absurdum argument.

Well, anyways, to be precise Justice Puno did not write the majority decision. It was a per curiam decision, meaning it is to be considered written under the name of all the justices. Justice Puno was just one of the separate opinions with 4 other justices writing their own.

By recognizing the validity of the IPRA, the SC recognized the substantial distinction between the IPs recognized therein from the majority of Filipinos.

Now, the question on the prudence and wisdom to make that distinction is solely within the power of Congress.

Again, you are barking up the wrong tree.

blackshama said...

Indigenousness or in non-politically correct Australian discourse "aborigninality" is a major question in Australia. Now the Aboriginal Australians believe that they evolved or in their Dreamtime accounts created by the Rainbow Serpent slithering on the outback. European Colonists can't argue about that. They have been there for about the last 60K years or so. There is empirical natural science to back that claim.

The justices should define "time immemorial". You need the empirical natural sciences to do just that.

Have Pampangos, Bisaya, Tagalogs etc evolve with their land?

Can the Austronesian colonists (from which many of my genetic material is derivived) considered indigenous? Should we define indigenousness on the establishment of the Philippine nation state which is no more than a colonial construct?

The Australian aborigines can give us some valuable insights to resolve the dilemma. They are Australians since they are bound by the LAND. They are not Australians in the sense of the modern Australian state which is the result of British colonization. That's why Aboriginal track stars and Olympic champions like Cathy Freeman waved the Aboriginal flag first before waving the Australian flag riling the conservative establishment.

DJB Rizalist said...

There was no majority in the Cruz vs. NCIP decision, since it was a 7 to 7 tie (I don't know why there was no 15th justice then, even Davide voted with Puno, so it wasn't the Erap impeachment trial, do you remember the configuration of the SC in Dec. 2000?

DJB Rizalist said...

Strange about our own Aeta aborigines, they are only said to be found in the Philippines and West Malaysia and some other place I forget?

Are they supposed to have come over from Africa? It doesn't seem plausible and the out of africa theory is starting to get frayed at the edges with new discoveries.

One thing to realize of course is that the definition of the Court includes the ancestors AND descendants of the original IPs (whatever that means). But it is this matter of the descendants and how they are supposed to establish their legitimate ties to the past that I wonder about.

According to the law it is by mere "self-ascription or the ascription of others" But not if you are Catholic!

Jaxius said...


my bad.

what you said pala was prevailing justices. Not majority.

DJB Rizalist said...

Surely such a crucial and transcendental issue deserves to be decided more definitively than a 7 to 7 tie in which the arguments of one side make more sense to me, whilst that of Puno and the prevailing justices, I do believe I shall have a great deal of fun dissecting in the next few days.

Trust me, you will be very entertained.

Jaxius said...


the issues debated therein are not yet over.

the rule that in case the justices cannot obtain a majority finds its root in the presumption that a law duly passed by Congress is constitutional.

The difficulty in deciding the constitutionality of a law which is yet to find a controversy, i.e.,the justices will decide on the constitutionality of the law on hypothetical grounds, lies in the fact that it is difficult to obtain a handle on it without factual antecedents.

As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, the life of the law has not been logic, it is experience. While I do not completely agree with him, instead holding on the idea that the law needs both logic and experience, it is too dangerous to decide on the constitutionality of a law purely on logic.

DJB Rizalist said...

I think we have our justiciable case--an oh what case!--in the proposed Muslim Commonwealth or Juridical Entity.

BTW, the nugget of wisdom from Panganinban is that the IPRA alienates ONE THIRD of Philippine Territory as land that NEVER entered the public domain and is essentially private property of 12 million indigenous peoples.

Jaxius said...


it is still a proposal. no concrete details yet. until then, we'd be wasting our breath discussing it.

DJB Rizalist said...

Jaxius, Still a proposal? Or a promise to the Maguindanao warlords? Bangsmorostan is coming. That may be her legacy.

Hula said...

The last time I checked, most of the Igorots are Christians... yet they are still under the indigenous block.

I live in Baguio, been around it's suburbs. They even have Churches even the the rural Cordilleran areas.

"Here is the amazing thing--The NON-INDIGENOUS peoples of the Philippines, according to this Supreme Court decision are all the CHRISTIAN Filipinos, those very Ilocanos, Pampangos, Tagalogs, Cebuanos, etc. in this post's title."

I am convinced that the proper description of "indigenous people" that the SC want to imply are those who were hardly under Spanish rule.

From the POV of a highlander, I think the attempt to give them "ancestral homeland" is to protect them from expoitation. Hey, many "ancestral" lands were not titled or bidded during the American/Spanish era. Sadly, the law on ancestral domains is not applied. Many IPs are actually dislocated. When I mean dislocated, they were automatically made squatters byt he invading government and non-IPs(inculding foreigners). I think it would be different if they homed the IPs and gave them a good source of living. But no. I can personally attest to it.

Have you heard of the case of CJH? The US Supreme court actually granted the Ibaloi owner title to many lands in Baguio however, sadly(which they owned even before the Americans came), when the independence was granted, it was taken away by the Philippine government. Same with the land where the PMA is standing. The issue now is not merely about 'ancestral domain' but private ownership deprivation.

I don't think the IPs justification to their ancestral land is selfish. It's just that when they 'shared' their resources, they carried all the discrimination and disadvantages. Had the Filipino nation promoted genuine equality and equity, I think we wouldn't be diving much into this matter.

Tricky, isn't it??

I can't speak for the bangsamoro ancestral land claims, but I can from the POV of a native Cordilleran.

DJB Rizalist said...

thanks for your very valid comment Hula. And yes I am aware that a large number of upland Cordillera peoples were Christianized, or more accurately, Anglicized. This is also true for many IPs, where individual members become Catholics.

But the religious distinction made by the supreme court still stands, imo, because by self-ascription for example, do the Ibalois, kankaney or kalanguya tribes describe their tribe as "Christian" ("self-ascription or ascription by others, the law says?)

I've never heard the usage for example, "the Christian tribes of the Cordillera".

Likewise there IPs who marry into nonindigenous tribes (Igorots marry tagalogs), so what happens to THOSE descendants, are they still indigenous people?

Or are there indigenous mestizos?

hehe, tricky yes.

But only if you take the law seriously and think it is internally consistent.

It is not.

Consider the upshot: 12 million IPS own one third of Philippine territory by ancestral rights!

Hula said...

"Consider the upshot: 12 million IPS own one third of Philippine territory by ancestral rights!"

I think one third is too much exaggerated. If we combine the ancestral lands vs Haciendas, I think there'd be more lands classified under haciendas than ancestral lands. Both the ARMM and CAR are not that huge in terms of land area. It's just that these two regions have low density that why it appears to be. I guess the non-IPs are throwing their problem of overpopulation to the IPs(heck, the whole of Pangasinan population is twice as large of the entire CAR population -- including the immigrant-infested Baguio)

Of course, the law wouldn't classify the Igorots as Christian Igorots because by religion, most are Christians. Have we heard of a "Muslim Igorot"? I personally have not. So it would be useless to be saying Christian Igorot as opposed to Christian lowlanders as there are Muslim lowlanders(in the non-mountainous areas in the ARMM). I included that statement because it's still uncommon that when once says "Igorot", they are automatically thought of as pagans or animists(probably because of the continuous practice of Cañao.)

By descent, I consider the Tagalogs, Ilocanos as INDIGENOUS...what makes them really different(by blood) from the so-called IPs? Spanish influence. It only ends there, by blood? Nah. It's still Malayo-Polynesian. In Latin America, people of Indian descent are still "Indians", the mixed bloods are mestizos, the blancos are those Caucasians. You see the ethnic monopoly in the Philippines.

BTW, how would there be such a term "indigenous mestizo" when in fact, the term mestizo already pertains to someone of "mixed descent"(at least in the Philippines)? It is a redundant term, sir.

As I have previously mentioned, the issue on ancestral land does not only fall on "ancestral recognition" but also in terms of LEGAL ownership (which is still labeled as ancestral land just because it is legally owned by IP nobilities).

Likewise there IPs who marry into nonindigenous tribes (Igorots marry tagalogs), so what happens to THOSE descendants, are they still indigenous people?

Yes, if they would still identify with their IP roots. An interesting case is that of Robin Padilla. From his mother he is Igorot, but is he considered? No. he seem to be detached from his IP roots and on the role he plays he seems to be making the Igorot women as sex objects(So his mother is a sex object???). Compare him to Marky, how come he is mostly known as Igorot than Bisyaya(his dad being Visayan?). Think of that.

Again, the case of Camp John Hay. The US Supreme court granted the title to the Ibaloi owner. There are documents to prove the legeality of the ownership. It is true that the Americans favored him(the IP owner) even though his claim is based on ancestral land but they it's already titled to him. That is one reason why the Philippine Government can only lease CJH to Filinvest. They cannot sell it because they do not have the legal documents to do so. Same with other areas in Benguet. They are titled under the name of several IP nobility however it is (illegally)in possession of the Philippines state.

It seems that it's hard for you to relate to the actual situations of the IPs. I don't know why can't you see their vulnerability. The IP nobilities were ripped off their LEGAL rights(rights as LEGAL owners, not ancestral owners) to their land, what more with those who live in "untitled" land who have been occupying and making a living in those land?

Imagine if the Philippine government suddenly takes it away, what now is their defense. They're made squatters in the area where they have been for generations.

You see the hypocrisy of Filipinos. "We" don't want to foreigners to own land here but your non-IPs would like to grab the land where the IPs have long been making a living. Worse than the hacienda method. At least in the haciendas, it has teeth. Many famers have already owned the lands they've long farmed. The IPRA? It's teethless(as in gums nalang natira). Even legal (as in those with legal documents to prove ownership) owners are deprived of their right to their land.

Don't want the label "ancestral land"? Therefore the label of "indigenous" should be abolished too. As long as the label IP is present, the term "ancestral land" will always be there.

You see, most(not all but I would say most) Filipinos(or the more apt term - lowlanders) view IPs are second class.

Chyt said...

I think what differentiates the IPs from the non-IPs is that the IPs still adhere to their pre-hispanic cultures which the majority population might describe as animistic. Ilocanos, Tagalogs and Kapampangans may not be IPs because the Spanish colonizers managed to obliterate much of their ancient ways of life. But it does not mean to say that they are not natives, as they are the original settlers on the lands they now occupy. They are entitled to be protected in their right to their native lands as much as the IPs are entitled to their ancestral lands.

What makes the IPs a special case, I suppose, is that because they collectively resisted Spanish colonization, they were marginalized and minoritized. I will single out the Igorots because I am quite familiar with their case. The word Igorot (originally i-golot) has evolved from Igolot that simply meant "from the mountains" (i being a prefix in the Malay language meaning "from" and golot, meaning mountain) to something suggesting barbarism or lack of refinement (Just watch those TV shows who label someone dirty Igorot.). The Spaniards are largely to blame for this - they started the black propaganda against the Igorots because the latter resisted subjugation.

Because they were minoritized, they were eventually subjected to State oppression. Their ancestral domain was preserved in its original state more or less (and therefore boasted of natural bounties), a necessary consequence of their animism which fostered the IP's intimacy with nature. But this domain was forcibly alienated from them through the enactment of "environmental" laws. The other Filipinos were not subjected to State exploitation of this complexion or magnitude.

So I say that the Ilocanos are not IPs, but they are natives of Ilocandia. IPs and the non-IP natives of the Philippines have equal rights on matters where their circumstances are similar. But where they are unequal, it is unjust to treat them equally.

Just the take of an Igorot.

DJB Rizalist said...

Thanks for this comment chyt, but let me ask a few questions of clarification.

"Natives" and "native lands" are not legal entities in the same way that "indigenous peoples" and "ancestral lands" are. There is no National Commission of Native Peoples for example. And there are no native lands awarded to natives as private ancestral domains. Do you think this is fair?

Also, the distinction you make between "natives" and "IPs" based on religious is patently unconstitutional and violates the freedom of religion, both of IPs and natives, because what happens if I now convert from Christianity to animism, or vice versa? Do I become an IP or a native? If the answer depends on what my ancestors did, that would be unfair to me, would it not, for I had nothing to do with my grandparents decisions!

The other point you raise about "subjugation" and "resistance to colonization" is similarly inconsistent.

I agree that the Igorots successfully resisted subjugation by the Spaniards.

But lets take a look at the "natives" of the Visayan Islands in the 17th century, when the Maguindanao Confederacy regularly raided their towns and settlements for slaves to be sold in Borneo. In 1602 for example, a fleet of 80 warships led by Datu Sorongan and Rajah Mura took 800 Christian captives in a massive raid that reached as far as Caliraya in Luzon.

For centuries the Visayans successfully resisted subjugation by the Moro imperialist slave traders by allying with the Spanish. You may call it subjugation and colonization now, but they surely would object to that characterization.

Yet they are now mere "natives"!

Do you know that of all the provinces of the Philippines, Samar, Panay and Leyte are the only ones that have no indigenous peoples defined?

By the way, have Igorots always been united themselves? Are there no subjugators among the Ibalois, Kankana-ey or Kalanguya tribes?

So far the Supreme Court has used "religion" and "success in resisting subjugation" as the hallmarks of the IP.

But their decisions is full of such contradictions, and yet on that basis they proclaim one third of the territory to be ancestral domains.

Is this fair?

DJB Rizalist said...

I think we can agree that one injustice cannot cure another. Two wrongs do not make a right. That is an element of justice as fairness.

My point however is the same one that Shakespeare makes in The Merchant of Venice.

Even if the "princes of imperial Manila" were to grant that they owed the Igorots a "pound of flesh", as a simple "native" of the Philippines I would insist that when the Igorots come to extract their pound of flesh, they must do so "exactly", not one molecule, not one drop of blood more or less than one pound!

And though no CADT's have been issued in Baguio, at least the US Supreme Court did give the Carinos Camp John Hay!

BTW, the American Colonialists certainly succeeded in "subjugating" and "Christianizing" the Igorots did they not?

I think that makes them mere natives under your definition does it not?

English is well represented even among the Igorots. Why do we not say they surrendered to colonialists too?

A pound of flesh you say? Be my guest, but do it justly and precisely, okay?

Bill Bilig said...

>> "Natives" and "native lands" are not legal entities in the same way that "indigenous peoples" and "ancestral lands" are. There is no National Commission of Native Peoples for example. And there are no native lands awarded to natives as private ancestral domains. Do you think this is fair?

“Indigenous peoples” and “ancestral lands” were recognized by the legal system because people believed in their cause enough to lobby Congress (or to go the hills) for these concepts to be recognized. If you want legal entities such as “natives” and “native lands”, be recognized by the legal system then you should fight for it. We are not begrudging the Kapampangans, the Ilokanos, the Tagalogs, etc, their own ancestral domains if they are so inclined to fight for them.

>> Also, the distinction you make between "natives" and "IPs" based on religious is patently unconstitutional and violates the freedom of religion, both of IPs and natives, because what happens if I now convert from Christianity to animism, or vice versa?
From what I’ve read of Chyt’s comment she didn’t use religion to distinguish IPs from non-IPs.

>> So far the Supreme Court has used "religion" and "success in resisting subjugation" as the hallmarks of the IP.
If the SC uses both as its basis for distinguishing IPs from non-IPs, then I think it is wrong. I agree with you that using religion would be unconstitutional. As Chyt pointed out, the distinction should be based on a people’s retention of their pre-Hispanic cultural identity. Also, for me, it isn’t so much “resisting subjugation” that should be the hallmark of distinguishing an IP. I believe that the better yardstick should be whether one retained one’s indigenous culture and identity, the Igorots were able to do this because they resisted the Spaniards.

>> I would insist that when the Igorots come to extract their pound of flesh, they must do so "exactly", not one molecule, not one drop of blood more or less than one pound!
What is your basis for saying that we are asking more than one pound?

>> BTW, the American Colonialists certainly succeeded in "subjugating" and "Christianizing" the Igorots did they not?
True but despite the fact that they were subjugated and were Christianized, they still retained much of their cultural identity which, as I said above, should be the yardstick of what is an IP.

DJB Rizalist said...

Welcome to Philippine Commentary Bill,

The concept of "indigenous peoples" is indeed a legal concept that has been precisely defined by the Supreme Court. Here is Chief Justice Puno:

Indigenous Cultural Communities or Indigenous Peoples refer to a group of people or homogeneous societies who have continuously lived as an organized community on communally bounded and defined territory. These groups of people have actually occupied, possessed and utilized their territories under claim of ownership since time immemorial. They share common bonds of language, customs, traditions and other distinctive cultural traits, or, they, by their resistance to political, social and cultural inroads of colonization, non-indigenous religions and cultures, became historically differentiated from the Filipino majority. ICCs/IPs also include descendants of ICCs/IPs who inhabited the country at the time of conquest or colonization, who retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions but who may have been displaced from their traditional territories or who may have resettled outside their ancestral domains.

I think if you read this definition carefully, it could apply to Tagalogs, Pampangos and the other Catholicized tribes.

But if you look at the official list of IPs (110 of them) not a single such tribe is on the list.

The difference apparently boils down to whether the particular group succeeded in resisting subjugation as seen by their present religion AND whether they suceeded in resisting.

I claim that the Visayans succeeded in resisting the Maguindanao Confederacy's centuries of slave raiding and trading by allying with the Spaniards and accepting their protection. That they became Catholics was an act of free will in most cases, because they could always have run off into the hills like the IPs.

But the definition is further inconsistent internally because of the clause that says descendants who move out of the territories that they "continuously" occupied since time immemorial, are also IPs!

It is this that falls into my "pound of flesh analogy" because exactly which particles of citizenship belong to which category.

The definition is utterly bereft of logical and moral consistency. You cannot define the "pound of flesh" accurately enough to extract it justly.

Justice as fairness demands that the Right have priority over the Good. We cannot correct one injustice by committing another.

All Filipinos have been oppressed by colonizers and by each other. Why should the slave raiders of Maguindanao own 1000 villages in the Pulangi River Basin and sulu, while their former victims and slaves in Panay, Samar and Leyte are "mere natives"??

Bill Bilig said...

Thanks for the welcome :-)

I’m not going to defend the Supreme Court’s definition of what are/are not indigenous peoples since it is their [or Justice Puno’s] definition.. But since you’ve been questioning the consistency of a law, pray tell me, could you cite examples of laws that pass your test of “logical and moral consistency”?

In my personal understanding, laws of any kind usually go like this: There is a general rule, then there is an exception to that general rule, then there is an exception to the exception, then there is an exception to the exception to the exception, and so on and so forth.

There is no such thing as a consistent law or one that passes your test of “logical and moral consistency”. The Bible itself, the law of God if you are a Christian, is very very inconsistent. As for human-made laws, we need not look far to see that they are inconsistent. The Constitution itself is very inconsistent. In one section it says that we should have an independent foreign policy. But then on another section it says that generally accepted principles of international law are parts of the law of the land. Is this consistent? Does it pass your test of “logical and moral consistency”?

To cite another example closer to home, the Family Code is inconsistent; on the one hand it says that couples, once they get married, cannot separate. But on the other hand, it allows marriages to be annulled. Is this consistent?

If logical and moral consistency is the yardstick which we should use to determine whether a law is acceptable or not, then we should use this yardstick in all laws and not only on this law regarding indigenous peoples.

Secondly, in one of your earlier statements you mentioned that Igorots should not claim more than their pound of flesh. To quote you again, you said: “I would insist that when the Igorots come to extract their pound of flesh, they must do so ‘exactly’, not one molecule, not one drop of blood more or less than one pound!”

My question was “What is your basis for saying that we are asking more than one pound?” To me, this question remains unanswered so it deserves to be repeated. In your response, you said that it is some kind of an analogy. Please explain the analogy to me, my brain is not bright enough to get it.


DJB Rizalist said...

Hi Bill,
Thanks for indulging these discussions and let me just say, I learn the most from folks who don't agree with me on such complex matters as this. But I am glad to clarify things as I see them.

I acknowledge the system of exceptions to general rules that exists in all Laws. IMO, this does not represent an inconsistent system, since in all cases we can assume that our lawmakers are informed by a sense of morality that obliges them to adopt only such exceptions as satisfy the principles of Justice.

But when I say that the definition of an "indigenous people" as set out in the assailed Decision of the Supreme Court and as set out in the Law itself, is "logically and morally inconsistent" I mean in literally because there are outright logical inconsistencies in that definition.

In particular, take note that the definition describes ICC/IPs as occupying their territories continuously since time immemorial OR as having left such territories (for whatever reason), and merely by self-ascription or ascription by others.

There are no exceptions whatever that I can see in both above categories. It is therefore a purely arbitrary definition. It is logically inconsistent and the ultimate fact is that who the IPs are is determined by a list submitted by Rep. Andolana.

The examples you cite are not inconsistencies of this kind.

Regarding the pound of flesh idea, I am sorry that it is so abstract, which I admit. I am not saying the Igorots are asking for more than one pound. The point is only that there is no just or fair way in the present for them to correct injustices done to them in the past without doing injustice in the present. The argument is one found in The Merchant of Venice which clarifies the moral nature of such things as historical debts and their just settlement.

Chyt said...

Like the Supreme Court, we oversimplify the meaning of IPs when we use religion as the yardstick by which we determine whether an ethnic group is indigenous or not. Dean, I never said that it is the Igorot's religion, coupled with their having resisted colonization, that makes them IP's. I said that it is their pre-Hispanic way of life to which they still adhere. I should have added that, also, they are still settled in the territory of their ancestors. So obviously, mine is diametrically opposed to CJU Puno's position.

Sure, most Igorots converted to "Christianity." They speak English. Perhaps, it is probably in the Cordillera where everyone speaks English. It is preposterous to say that they are no longer IPs because they embraced Christianity and the English language. It is even more preposterous to say that because they know Jesus Christ and speak George Bush's language, they are no longer entitled to their ancestral domain and they should be treated as every other Filipino belonging to the majority culture.

Another point: The Carino decision is nothing but a piece of paper. Up to this time, the Carinos are still asking the government to recognize their claim. John Hay is now under BCDA control. In a few years, it will be under Korean control, if the ongoing construction of cottages of Koreans will not be abated.

I am a member of Portia Sorority and, thus, acquainted with the Merchant of Venice. I beg to say that the analogy is misplaced. The Igorots are not asking for more than one pound. Truth to tell- for every one pound taken from them, a miraculously just Philippine government will be able to return to them not even half of that! It will still be an injustice, but one committed not against anyone but the Igorots. Who will sustain an injustice when the State hurls into the trash can all those environmental laws that made the Igorots squatters in their own land? Who will suffer damage when the State restores to the IPs the mountains mined and destroyed by the greedy capitalists who could not even contribute to the host provinces' Internal Revenue Allotment because their principal offices are in Makati or Pasig or elsewhere? What common good is injured when the State surrenders to the IPs lands it reserved as dairy farms or watersheds (By the way, one watershed was eventually registered in the name of a DENR Secretary)?

The recognition of IP rights does not tilt the balance in favor of IPs (who, by the way, are also natives of their territories) and against the non-IPs. I still assert that the Igorots are similarly circumstanced as the Ilocanos, Kapampangans and the Tagalogs. The most unequal treatment is to treat unequal persons equally.

I love your blog, Dean. I love the dialectics. More power to you.

Chyt said...

Correction: The second statement in the second to the last paragraph should read: "I still assert that the Igorots are NOT similarly circumstanced as the Ilocanos, Kapampangans and the Tagalogs."

padma said...

Hi. I'd like to try and take this discussion in another direction by focusing on the problem of identifying indigenousness. I regret that I cannot claim an indigenous identity the way my Igorot friends do, not because I want to claim ancestral land, but simply because I grew up in the Cordi, I love the Cordi, and I love Cordi people. There. An explicit statement of my subjectiveness.)

I agree that the definition of indigenous peoples in the IPRA is problematic but not for the same reasons as have been laid out above. Rather, I think that indigenous peoples themselves should question the way they are framed, because it is limiting in many ways.

Here are the things I consider to be questionnable:

1. The inaccurate reproduction of the artificial Christian lowlander vs. non-Christian highlander divide.

2. The mistaken characterization of indigenous groups as homogenous.

3. The implicit assumption that indigenous peoples should remain traditional, otherwise they are no longer indigenous.

4. The assumption that indigenous peoples are noble green savages.

These points reproduce stereotypes that do not fit the reality (as I see it) of indigenous life in the present world. It relegates them to the past (time immemorial) and to distant "remote" spaces, and it places them out of contact in a bubble, in the same way anthropologists (my fellow culprits) once did when they wrote about things like "first contact". This is detrimental to indigenous peoples who seek to RECLAIM ancestral domains because they find that their authenticity is questioned if they are not primitive, animist, uneducated, living in the forest, and producing food at subsistence levels only, as can be seen from some of the questions raised above.

The United Nations accepts this definition of IPs:
“… those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing in those territories, or parts of them. They form at present nondominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems.”

I might add though that this definition is also constantly debated. It still cannot sufficiently account for all indigenous groups, their histories, and their present circumstances.

What is good about this definition is that it specifies that IPs are progressing towards the future, and that it is a future they ought to be able to determine for themselves.

Now I'm going to repeat some of the arguments made above, but it might be useful to this ongoing discussion to note that IPs in the Philippines are "presently nondominant" and are deemed to be squatters on land that their ancestors have occupied since before the Spanish colonial times. (I do have a problem with "time immemorial" too, but that's another story.) In this sense I think the IPRA is a corrective measure of sorts and it gives indigenous groups the (previously nonexistent) right to hold titles to their land, especially in the highlands where our old Forestry Code mistakenly claimed as public land areas that were occupied by people even before the republic existed as such.

As regards the Cordilleran situation, I highly recommend Gerard Finin's book, The Making of the Igorot, in which he traces the historical roots of a pan-Cordilleran consciousness. Although he attributes it to the influences of American colonial administrators, his thesis does not in any way undermine or negate the claims of highlanders to their territory. It offers an explanation of how this situation and consciousness grew in the Cordillera. Having just read the book (and having grown up among Igorot friends), I have to say I agree with Chyt in that "Igorots are NOT similarly circumstanced as Ilocanos, Kapampangans and the Tagalogs."

There's lots more to be said about the question of time and memory, our land problems in the Philippines and whether or not this should be couched in terms of indigenous or non-indigenous people, but... So much to say, so little time!

padma said...

P.S. What I meant to say at the beginning and before I got carried away was a resounding HELLO! Nice to "see" you :o)

(And I think you and I may have already had this discussion some years ago! So interesting the responses you got!)

DJB Rizalist said...

Hi there Padma. Nice to see you here. We certainly appreciate having an anthropologist because I admit it is a very complex and sensitive issue that I cannot claim to be an expert on.

For now, let me grant you the point you seem to be insisting on that the Igorots ARE "indigenous peoples" of the Philippines, even though you define the term a little differently than the Supreme Court.

But you have not actually answered the real question of this post, which is contained in the title. Which I could rephrase as follows:

Why don't you think the Tagalogs, Pampangos, Ilocanos and Cebuanos are ALSO "indigenous peoples" of the Philippines?

This question and my post do not contain any high level abstractions or special definitions of the term. Indeed, if I accept anybody's definition of indigenous people so far, the question still stands unanswered. Why do you disqualify these "majority" ethnic groups from your own definition?

The question is very simple:

Why aren't Tagalogs, Pampango's etc. considered to be "indigenous peoples" of the Philippines, whatever your definition happens to be.

What really is the difference in the circumstances of an Igorot and an Ilocano that leads to one being entitled to ancestral domains, and the other, not?

NATS said...

only times will tell it....all the people are indigenous, it just happen that we consider indigenous people as lately everybody is and everything is the same...