• Indigenous peoples in Philippines

    Indigenous peoples in Philippines

    The number of the Philippines’ indigenous peoples remains unknown, but it estimated to be between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of the 102.9 million national population.
  • Peoples

    The number of the Philippines’ indigenous peoples remains unknown, but it estimated to be between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of the 102.9 million national population
  • Rights

    2007: The Philippines votes in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Current state

    2016: Indigenous peoples political party “Sulong Katribu” is refused to participate in the national elections


The number of indigenous peoples in the Philippines is unknown, but it is estimated that between 10% and 20% of the country's population. The Philippines has adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but has not yet ratified ILO Convention 169.

Republic Law 8371, known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), was enacted in 1997. It has been praised for its support for the cultural integrity of indigenous peoples, the right to their lands and the right to self-directed development of these lands.

A more substantial implementation of the law is still sought, as the indigenous peoples of the Philippines continue to live in geographically isolated areas with lack of access to basic social services and few opportunities for widespread economic activities, education or political participation.

The Igorot, the Lumad and the Mangyan

The last census of 2010 included an ethnic variable for the first time. However, an official figure for the indigenous peoples of the Philippines has yet arrived, and it is estimated that the country's indigenous population is between 10% and 20% of the national population, which currently stands at around 102.9 million.

The indigenous groups in the mountains of northern Luzon 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, and even smaller and scattered groups in the central islands and Luzon, including several groups of hunter-gatherers in transition.

Indigenous peoples in the Philippines have retained much of their traditional, pre-colonial culture, social institutions and living practices. In general, they live in geographically isolated areas with lack of access to basic social services and few opportunities for major economic activities, education or political participation. In contrast, commercially valuable natural resources such as minerals, forests and rivers are found mainly in their areas, which makes them continuously vulnerable to aggression against development and land grabbing.

Main challenges for the indigenous peoples of the Philippines

Indigenous peoples participated in the electoral process by presenting their own political party, Sulong Katribu, to represent their interests in the 2016 national elections. Their attempt to win seats in Congress through the party-list system failed not because of lack of votes, but because the Elections Commission and the Supreme Court refused to accredit Sulong Katribu to participate in the elections.

The disqualification of the party list was condemned by many indigenous peoples, who filed appeals stating that all requirements for the accreditation of party lists had been met and that the disqualification of Sulong Katribu was a measure to further marginalize and discriminate against the parties. indigenous peoples. However, these appeals were also denied.

KATRIBU, the national alliance of the regional organization of indigenous peoples, recorded 37 cases of extrajudicial executions of indigenous peoples, 62 illegal arrests, 21 political prisoners, 20 incidents of forced evacuation that affected 21,966 indigenous peoples, more than a hundred people faced charges, and the forced closure of 34 Lumad schools since Duterte assumed the presidency in July 2016.

Possible progress for the indigenous peoples of the Philippines
2,600 Indians and Moro carried out successfully, under the SANDUGO movement of national minorities for self-determination, the second Lakbayan or Caravan of Protest of National Minorities for Self-Determination and Just Peace in Metro Manila.

Philippines: update on indigenous peoples affected by typhoon Yolanda

Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines on November 8, 2013. That day the elderly woman Biong of the indigenous Tagbanua community on Coron Island saw the ocean rise into 7 meter high waves that smashed the Tagbanua community’s boats to pieces. Their small fishing boats used to provide food were completely destroyed and the community’s three large boats for tour operations were severely damaged.

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Philippines: Cordillera indigenous activist and human rights defender killed

Cordillera Human Rights Alliance denounces the extrajudicial killing of William Bugatti who was shot on March 25 around 7 in the evening. William Bugatti was a Tuwali and a human rights worker, a Regional Council Member of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance-KARAPATAN, a Regional Council Member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance representing the Ifugao Peasant Movement and the Provincial Coordinator of Bayan Muna partylist.

Philippines: Update on indignous peoples' situation after thypoon Yolanda

Almost a month after the typhoon hit the central Philippines, here are some updates about the situation for indigenous peoples in the country:

Palawan island There have been two waves of relief operation and distribution in the barangays of Dillan, Lajala, Banuang Daan, Tagumpay and Marcilla in Coron, Palawan. A total of 1010 families (7,206 individuals) of indigenous peoples received relief packs. Another relief operation will be held by next week in the town of Busuanga. The next phase of the relief mobilization will be focused on the rehabilitation of houses and livelihood for 1,300 targeted families. 

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Philippines: National Solidarity Mission held as response to extrajudicial killings

On April 4-7, 2014, a National Solidarity Mission was held in response to one of the gravest cases of human rights violation in the Cordillera region in recent years – the massacre of the Ligiws of Sitio Sucao, Barangay Domenglay, Licuan Baay, Abra. The National Solidarity Mission was organized to register concern over the recent spate of human rights violations due to heavy militarization of the communities of Abra in the Philippines.

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Philippines: Cordillera Peoples Alliance denounces massacre of anti mining activists

In a statement from IWGIA's partner The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) the organisation strongly denounces the massacre of the Ligiw family in Abra province, in Baay Licuan municipality alledgedly by the 41st Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Kin and tribesmen recovered the bound and gagged bodies of Edie Ligiw, Freddie "Fermin" Ligiw and their father Licuben Ligiw in a shallow grave on March 8. Edie, Fermin and their aging father were leaders of the anti mining campaign in Baay Licuan and members of CPA's chapter in Abra. In the statement CPA points to the fact that 41st Infantry Battalion has a track record of human rights violations in Abra province, especially where local opposition to destructive mining is strong.

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Philippines: Indigenous communities under the radar of emergency relief after Typhoon Yolanda

Ten days ago Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the Philippines’ 25th typhoon this year and the most powerful ever recorded, hit and left thousands dead. Among the victims are the indigenous peoples in the Islands of Panay, Mindoro and Palawan. At least 50 indigenous communities have been severely affected, which means thousands of indigenous families are in need of immediate assistance. These indigenous communities live in isolated areas in the poorest socio-economic conditions, placing them in the most vulnerable situation after the disaster.

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IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. The Indigenous World 2019.

Contact IWGIA

Prinsessegade 29 B, 3rd floor
DK 1422 Copenhagen
Phone: (+45) 53 73 28 30
E-mail: iwgia@iwgia.org
CVR: 81294410

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