Quezon City, 16 September, 2014 — Clarissa V. Militante of Focus on the Global South won the Agong Journalism Award (Gawad Agong para sa Pamamahayag) for best article in the online reporting category in a ceremony Monday night at Monument for Heroes (Bantayog ng mga Bayani). The Award recognizes outstanding reporting on indigenous people’s issues and rights in the Philippines. The panel of judges consisted of members of news and other media.
Militante’s winning article, “Wanted: New ways to seek justice for Philippines tribals,” was published by UCA News on April 23, 2014. It recalls the murder of indigenous leader Macli-ing Dulag by soldiers under the Marcos dictatorship. Macli-ing led the Cordillera communities in opposing the construction of dams that would flood their land.
More than 30 years after Macli-ing was killed, Militante writes, “attacks on indigenous peoples have become more brazen in the context of heightening conflicts over resources… tribal communities face corporations that are grabbing ancestral domains and taking control of resources that are not only economically important to ethnic communities but sustain the very core of who they are and how they have lived for generations.”
Militante names several more tribal leaders and members of their families who have been murdered, injured or harassed in recent years. These acts, she notes, have gone unpunished, and protests are rising in the face of government inaction.
Justice for indigenous peoples in the Philippines, she suggests, will involve allowing these communities to pursue their own alternatives to the dominant development paradigm. One such alternative is seen in the “buen vivir” or “living well” philosophy that has been debated in Latin America and more recently in Asia by groups with similar traditions focused on social cooperation and harmony with nature.
According to its Facebook page, the Agong Award “is a salute to the media workers in print, broadcast, and online who devoted their time, talent, and efforts in covering the real situations and issues of the indigenous peoples.”
The Award was launched in 2013 by the Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP), in cooperation with Gawad Agong Committee, KASAPI, Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad ng Mindanao (KALUMARAN) and the Tunay na Alyansa ng Bayan Alay sa Katutubo (TABAK). It is given out by the Indigenous Voices in Asia Project in the Philippines (IVA Philippines) in cooperation with the Swedish Initiative for Development Aid (SIDA) and the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP).
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