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Communique of the National Peoples’ Food Systems Summit (NPFSS) Indigenous People’s Workshop

Members of the Agroecology X Network, together with the Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes (PNFSP), held the “Nawadwad: Indigenous People’s Workshop” last June 23, 2021.

The seventh in a series of food systems workshops under the National Peoples’ Food Systems Summit, this sectoral workshop tackled the indigenous food systems vis-a-vis the current food systems of indigenous peoples as well as the factors that result in the absence of food security in the country. It also provided a venue for the forwarding of demands and recommendations that will be included in the final manifesto for the upcoming National People's Food Systems Summit 2021.

Among the speakers were Beverly Mango of PNFSP, Tyrone Beyer of Task Force for Indigenous Peoples (TFIP), Lester Gueta of Agroecology X, and representatives of different indigenous groups from across the country.

Beyer discussed the indigenous knowledge, culture, and food management and systems as well as how these were impacted by colonization and neo-colonization. He said that the expansion of largescale mining and the continuous erection of large dams severely damaged indigenous food systems and displaced indigenous peoples from their ancestral domains. Beyer stressed that they have also suffered greatly from the neoliberal policies of the government that serve the interest of the ruling few while displacing the indigenous peoples. Whoever dares resist the state’s development aggression is met with state-sanctioned violence and human rights violations, including illegal arrests, raids, and extrajudicial killings. Beyer concluded that the ultimate solution to the plight of the indigenous peoples in the Philippines is the recognition of their collective right to self-determination.

Representatives of different indigenous groups across the country shared their indigenous knowledge, system, practices, and experiences in relation to food security. Edwin Danan of Aeta CLAA shared the current situation of Aetas and their food systems. Matet Basia shared that of the Igorots, while Jacquilene Libarra discussed on behalf of the Dumagats, Mangyans at Palaw-ans. Salvert Magapa discussed the food systems of Tumandoks while Jomar shared the Lumads’. Their presentations showed that indigenous peoples across the country have a common experience in relation to food systems. There is also unity in the collective assertion that lands should be owned by the tillers, ancestral domains are exclusively for indigenous peoples, and that justice must be given to all the victims of harassment, incarceration, and extrajudicial killings among the ranks of indigenous people.

Bayan Muna representative Eufemia Cullamat, belonging to an indigenous group herself, also participated in the lively discussions. Rep. Cullamat committed to advancing the interests of indigenous peoples in the halls of Philippine Congress.

Gueta discussed the network’s critique of the United Nations’ Food Systems Summit, which the network believes will serve only to further corporate interests since it is being led by representatives tied with huge transnational corporations and finance capital. The summit’s local counterpart, the Philippine government’s National Food Security Summit, was boycotted by Filipino food producers as it pushes for more neoliberal policies on food and agriculture. As a response, Agroecology X is organizing a parallel national summit to drum up public awareness and support towards agroecological initiatives and towards a genuinely pro-people food system.

After the presentations from various presenters and representatives, the participants divided into discussion groups to discuss the different aspects that affect their food system, their shared experiences and lessons thereof, and their demands and recommendations to further develop a pro-people food system. The participants then reconvened in the plenary session to report their discussions and recommendations, which will be forwarded to the National People’s Food Systems Summit.

In closing, Beverly Mango of the PNFSP reiterated the indigenous people’s resolve to continue the fight to defend their ancestral domains and right to self-determination, which are key factors to achieving a genuinely pro-people food system in the country. #

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