United Methodists sponsor Filipino women at U.N. forum
June 1, 2005
|A UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose
A Filipino woman balances a basket of produce on her head.
By Linda Bloom*
YORK (UMNS) — A young Muslim woman and a Roman Catholic nun, both from
the Philippines, were able to network at the United Nations with others
involved with indigenous issues because of assistance from the United
women were among the 1,500 participants at the Fourth Session of the
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues May 16-27 at the United Nations.
The forum examined various situations faced by indigenous, or native,
peoples around the world, with a particular focus on the Millennium
Development's goals to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and to
achieve universal primary education.
Another United Methodist participant was the Rev. Yngvar Ruud, a pastor from Norway.
feel that we are partners in promoting justice and peace," said Sister
Celine Cajanding, a member of the Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS),
about her sponsorship by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries
and Board of Church and Society in Washington.
Ampatuan also expressed appreciation for the opportunity provided by
the United Methodists and added that such interfaith work can help erase
prejudices and biases.
Bautista, a Church and Society executive, said the sponsorship is in
response to a conference he and Mia Adjali, an executive with the
Women's Division of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries,
attended late last year in Davao City, Philippines.
event, "First People's Forum on Peace for Life," had a focus of
Christians acting in solidarity with Muslims and "called for an
interfaith collaboration in addressing issues of justice and peace,"
Ampatuan and Cajanding are involved with InPeace Mindanao, a grassroots
movement linking Muslims, indigenous peoples and Christians in actions
for peace and justice on Mindanao, the second-largest island in the
to InPeace Mindanao, "Mindanao has been recently thrust into political
turbulence with the recent spate of bombings that have rocked major
cities, the on-again/off-again peace talks between the government of the
Republic of the Philippines and the NDFP (National Democratic Front of
the Philippines) and MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), the all-out
war and militarism that has victimized civilians and displaced hundreds
of thousands, especially in Moro-dominated areas, the development
aggression against indigenous peoples and the escalation of violations
of human rights in both urban and rural areas."
who is the spokesperson for the League of Moro Youth and active in the
United Voice of the Moro People, said there is a long history of
struggles on the island.
losers in the Mindanao situation are the indigenous peoples and other
farmers and their access to land, according to Cajanding, who runs a
center for Filipino migrant workers and their families.
is the intention of the transnational corporations, with the permission
of the government, to exploit the remaining lands," she explained.
current Filipino government has basically instituted "undeclared
marshal law," according to Ampatuan. Deregulation has caused economic
turmoil and the number of human rights violations has intensified since
the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Those violations include the
illegal arrests or abductions of Maro people and others, the "massive
militarization" of communities and the outright killings of activists
the two women learned through their experience at the United Nations,
indigenous peoples in other countries have similar concerns. "It's very
evident that we all share the same common problems," Ampatuan said.
problems include ownership of land, constant violations of human
rights, and the encroachment of multinational corporations. In many
countries, indigenous peoples are asking for the right to
self-determination, she added.
common thread among indigenous peoples "is the effect of the World Bank
and IMF (International Monetary Fund) projects on their lives,"
Cajanding said. In her opinion, despite the participation of the World
Bank in the Philippines for the past 40 years, "we are worse off than
women said they were pleased to have the opportunity to present the
situation in Mindanao in a forum at the United Nations. As a networking
tool, the forum was "an avenue to widen our links and networking with
other organizations," Cajanding added.
also noted that she now has a better understanding of international
laws that could be used to help protect people in Mindanao.
May 27, at the conclusion of its session, the Permanent Forum on
Indigenous Issues recommended that the United Nations, its member states
and other intergovernmental organizations ensure the participation of
indigenous peoples in the design, implementation and monitoring of
strategies to reduce poverty.
strategies also should clearly identify rights to indigenous land,
forest, marine and other natural resources, the forum said. Food
security and water protection also are needed for indigenous peoples.
terms of education, states should guarantee access to free primary
quality education for indigenous children and develop bilingual and
culturally sensitive education to reduce dropout rates, the forum
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org