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Padilla: IPs, Muslims to gain from PH’s progress
SEN. Robinhood “Robin” C. Padilla vowed on Thursday to uphold the rights of indigenous people (IP) groups in the Philippines, as he chaired the first meeting of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities and Muslim Affairs.
Padilla said IPs should be the first to benefit from the nation’s progress since they have been here before any other race.
Before he was elected as senator, Padilla had advocated for the rights of IP communities.
The lawmaker stressed IPs have a big role in our national identity – “kung kaya’t nararapat lamang na sila ay bigyan natin ng importansya na kasing-lebel ng iginagawad natin sa iba’t-ibang sektor ng ating lipunan (which is why they should be given importance on the same level as other sectors of society).”
Padilla lamented there are still indigenous peoples who are victims of discrimination and abuse of their ancestral domains – and have yet to gain access to government programs.
“If there is anyone who should benefit from our nation’s progress, it should be our indigenous peoples because they are owners of our land – they have been here before any other race,” Padilla said in his opening statement at the organizational meeting of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities and Muslim Affairs.
Padilla further said that taking care of our IPs and our Muslims will be the best proof that we are free. We cannot say we are free or independent if we play the role of local conquerors),” he said adding that ensuring the rights of IPs and Muslims is a symbolism of the nation’s freedom.