Indigenous peoples in the Philippines

The Philippines' indigenous population continues to be estimated at between 10% and 20% of the national population, which has been projected to currently lie at 102.9 million.

The indigenous groups in the northern mountains of Luzon (Cordillera) are collectively known as Igorot while the groups on the southern island of Mindanao are collectively called Lumad. There are smaller groups collectively known as Mangyan in the central islands as well as even smaller, more scattered, groups in the central islands and Luzon. 

Legislation Concerning Indigenous Peoples

Republic Act 8371, known as the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA), was promulgated in 1997. The law has been lauded for its support for respect for indigenous peoples’ cultural integrity, right to their lands and right to self-directed development of these lands.

There is, however fundamental criticism of the law, which has also not been implemented at a substantial level.

The UNDRIP and ILO Convention 169

The Philippines voted in favor of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) but the government has not yet ratified ILO Convention 169.

Current situation of indigenous peoples in the Philippines

Indigenous peoples in the Philippines generally live in geographically isolated areas with a lack of access to basic social services and few opportunities for mainstream economic activities or political participation.

They are the people with the least education and the least meaningful political representation. In contrast, commercially valuable natural resources such as minerals, timber and water are concentrated in their areas, making them continuously vulnerable to development aggression from both private and public extractive industries.

Philippine indigenous peoples continue to face problems on the non-recognition of their collective rights to land, territories and resources; Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC); self determination; and human rights.

Amidst a climate of political repression, indigenous peoples are fervently struggling for the recognition of these rights in various forms, including assertion of genuine regional autonomy in the Cordillera and inclusion of indigenous peoples’ rights in the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Read more

Download the 2015 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in the Philippines to learn about major developments and events during 2014.

View our photos from the Philippines on Flickr