VERA Files writer wins top prize for human rights story

Desiree Caluza receives her Gawad Agong sa Pamamahayag award. Photo courtesy of Adela Maybelle Wayas ng Gawad Agong

JOURNALIST Desiree Caluza bagged the “Gawad Agong Para Sa Pamamahayag” award for her story on a human rights leader in the Cordilleras.

The feature entitled, “Bontoc woman is a human rights icon,” published on March 30, 2016 by VERA Files, won first prize in the print and online category.

The Gawad Agong award recognizes excellence in reporting on indigenous peoples’ issues. The award-giving body is initiated by indigenous peoples in the country led by KATRIBU Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas and Indigenous Voices in Asia-Philippines.

In the article, Caluza tells the story of how Bontoc woman Petro Macliing, or “Mother Petra” to many, defended their rights to ancestral lands.

A multi-awarded human rights defender, she led protest movements during the Martial Law years. Mother Petra opposed the construction of the World Bank-funded Chico River dam project of the late president Ferdinand Marcos. She also led women in barring mining explorations in her village.

“I thank Mother Petra for sharing with me her story and the struggle of the indigenous peoples against the Chico dam project,” Caluza told KATRIBU, adding she’s honored to receive the award given by the indigenous peoples themselves.

This year’s complete list of winners:

Photo courtesy of Gawad Agong

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