Human rights body hails bill on employement for indigenous peoples

(MANILA STANDARD) The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Thursday backed the passage of a proposed measure seeking equal employment opportunities for indigenous peoples (IPs).

The CHR welcomed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1026 authored by Senator Jinggoy Estrada which aims to address the issues of poverty and inequalities affecting members of indigenous communities by providing them with access to equal employment opportunities and prohibiting discriminatory acts in their hiring and dismissal from work.

The bill, if passed, would be titled “Equal Employment Opportunities to Members of Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICC) Act” that shall guarantee that the rights of IPs are respected.

Under the bill, the government is mandated to reserve at least 10 percent of the rank-and-file positions in government services to IPs in areas where indigenous cultural communities’ presence is dominant.

CHR lamented that the indigenous communities and indigenous peoples continue to be one the Philippines’ most vulnerable groups from discrimination, displacements, killings, numerous human rights violations and social inequalities.

Citing a 2020 report, CHR said the International Labor Organization sounded the alarm on the extreme poverty and inequality that beset IPs, and that “IPs are nearly three times as likely to be living in extreme  poverty as their non-indigenous counterparts.”

“In the Philippines.’”, IPs are considered to be among the poorest sectors of our country and experience the highest rates of unemployment, underemployment and illiteracy,” it said.

CHR said the proposed measure seeks to concretize the social justice clause under Article XIII, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution.

“The IPs right to secure equal employment opportunities and right to be free from discrimination are their gateway to freely determine economic and social development while ensuring their cultural well-being. As such, the CHR urges the swift progress and eventual passage of this measure, which is most certainly a step to a more inclusive society for IPs in the Philippines,” it stressed.