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Barefoot Lawyers: Defending Community Resource Rights in the Philippines

By: Carl Rebuta, Ronald Gregorio, Yasmin Hatta

This study by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) discusses the concept of a Community Paralegal Team (CLPT) and documents its implementation in the Philippines. CLPTs are integrated into existing grassroots organizations and consist of groups of local individuals who educate their communities about their rights and empower them to protect and assert these rights through both legal and political channels. This study recommends effective methods for training and mobilizing CLPTs. Furthermore, the individual case studies within the report demonstrate how CLPTs, initially formed to assist communities in the filing of particular complaints in relation to large-scale development plans, can ultimately support enduring change. With the assistance of CLPTs, marginalized rural communities with little or no access to judicial processes or even basic government services can attain a deep understanding of their community rights, effectively exercise these rights through formal institutions, and fruitfully participate in decision-making and planning processes.

Keywords: Community paralegals, Community resource rights, Indigenous rights, Ancestral land rights.