In the Philippines, paramilitary groups operate with impunity and are infamous for committing human rights violations, particularly against indigenous peoples. In the region of Mindanao in June 2011, one such group attacked and killed several indigenous peoples in their homes. In response, the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) hosted an international petition on-line to demand an end to the violence and killings of indigenous peoples by paramilitary groups. Only two days later, the government approved a military proposal to “institutionalize” these groups with the funding of private firms, particularly mining companies. Fearing that this would exacerbate the already escalating situation of violence, Madagway Babaeyon (MB) requested funds to hold a summit entitled “Face-to-Face: Northern Mindanao Indigenous Peoples’ Summit on Para-militarization and Human Rights” and invite participants from relevant government agencies to attend and listen to indigenous peoples’ accounts of violations occurring on the ground. MB also plans to continue APWLD’s petition and present it at the summit, as well as create a manifesto calling for the disbandment of the paramilitary in indigenous communities to be signed by participants and given to government agencies and the President.
MB works for the empowerment of the Lumad (indigenous peoples) women in their defense of their Ancestral Domains against development aggressions that destroy their lands and consequently transgress against the very fabric of their culture that is primarily dependent on nature.