The Assert Socio-Economic Initiatives Network in the Philippines (ASCENT Philippines) strongly supports the call of national minorities for self determination and just peace. National minorities from different groups all over the country converged in Manila on October 13, 2016 in what has been called the Lakbayan (Journey) of National Minorities for Self Determination and Just Peace.

ASCENT has a long history of partnership with grassroots-based national minority organizations in developing and implementing socio-economic programs and projects for the benefit of national minority communities in the whole country. Because the government has time and again failed to provide them with basic social services and have long ignored their socio-economic rights, national minorities, exercising their right to freely determine how to govern and develop themselves, have turned to ASCENT and its members organizations to ask for assistance in developing their communities through socio-economic programs and projects.

ASCENT willingly provided support to national minority communities in the form of programs and projects in capacity building, food security and sustainable agriculture, disaster risk reduction and management, environmental protection, community-based health development and community learning.

These projects, however, have come under intense pressure from the government and the military in recent years. Community schools were closed down, food security and sustainable agriculture programs were forcibly halted, entire national minority communities were displaced, and development and community workers were mercilessly killed. ASCENT deplores these attacks and strongly condemns the continued attacks on national minority communities and development projects and workers.

This month, as national minorities continue to advance their rights, ASCENT pledges continued support in their fight self determination and just peace and in defending their territories and ways of life.###

Reference:
Renmin Crisanta Vizconde
Spokesperson, ASCENT
ascent.secretariat@gmail.com

Photo by Mark Ambay
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