PH leading world in recognizing IPs: NCIP - TrueID

PH leading world in recognizing IPs: NCIP

Philippine News AgencyOctober 28, 2021

(File photo)

MANILA – The National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) said the Philippines is leading the world in terms of recognizing and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples (IPs).

This was reported by Lawyer Norberto “Jong” Navarro, Ethnographic Commissioner of the NCIP, during the virtual press conference of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on Wednesday in celebration of Indigenous People’s Month this October.

Navarro said this achievement was made possible through the creation of NCIP which is mandated to implement the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act or the IPRA Law and promote IPs�� rights “in their own perspective” and over their “ancestral domain”.

The NCIP made processes and validations of all IPs’ claims easy to implement, Navarro explained, as shown by the 43 policy guidelines issued by the Commission that are responsive to the needs of every IP community.

To date, NCIP has already identified 948 IP communities located and living in roughly 13 million hectares of land, 27 percent of which were already given land titles estimated to be 5.8 million hectares of land. “Wala akong alam na ibang bansa na nakagawa nito,” Navarro said, noting that even the United States had only “reserved” lands for their own IPs.

Navarro said besides the cultural celebration, the country is also commemorating the 24th year of the signing of the IPRA with this year’s theme: "Ang Paglalakbay ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan para sa Tunay na Pagkilala, Paggalang at Sariling Pamamahala."

“Hindi lang kulay at saya ng kultura ang ating dapat ise-celebrate ngayong buwan ng Indigenous Peoples o ng Katutubong Pilipino, ngunit pati na din ang adbokasiya sa kanilang pagkilala at gayun din ang pagprotekta sa kanila (We should not only celebrate the color and joy of culture this month of IPs or the Indigenous Filipinos, but also their advocacy for their recognition and also the protection of them),” Navarro said.

“Dapat po natin itong pag-ingatan, sapagkat ito ay nagbibigay ng kulay sa Pilipinas, sa kulturang Pilipino. Ito ay pagpapahalaga, hindi lang sa katutubo lalo na sa lahat ng Pilipino (We should take care of it, because it gives color to the Philippines, to Filipino culture. This is an appreciation, not only to the indigenous people but to all Filipinos),” he added.

Through the NCIP, the IPs are being assisted and empowered to have their own representation and air their concerns in every government program and project affecting their communities. These are now 5,006 IP Mandatory Representatives (IPMRs) in the local government councils across the country, the official said.

“We’re talking here of barangays, municipal and even city levels,” Navarro said, pointing to the “empowerment” given to IPs by the Filipino people to help advance their interests.

“Kapag may ancestral domain o significant ang number ng IPs, kailangan may IP representation diyan sa (If there is ancestral domain or a significant number of IPs, there should be IP representation in the) community. That is a big accomplishment (of the NCIP), imagine the direct influence of the IPs in the policies and programs of every local government unit (LGU) and these are not chosen in the general elections but are chosen by the IPs themselves,” he said.

The NCIP also reported that there are 235 organized IP Cooperatives, 32,094 IPs assisted through its Educational Assistance Program, 51 given with Merit-based scholarships, 143 Memorandum of Understanding signed with other government agencies and civil society organizations (CSOs) aimed at advancing the rights of the IPs, and 975 projects implemented for IPs across the country.

Navarro said during the 20th Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues held last April, the NCIP through its Chairperson, Secretary Allen Capuyan, emphasized the importance of the Permanent Forum as a platform for exchanging views and developing partnerships with IPs especially during the Covid 19 Pandemic.

The NCIP official added that the NCIP will continue to create programs and review its guidelines to strengthen the protection and promotion of the rights of the IPs, especially from exploitative groups such as the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Council of Elders (MIPCEL) Datu Bawan Jacob Lanes, from the Mandaya, Manobo Tribe in Monkayo, Compostela Valley explained the exploitation of IPs by the CPP-NPA-NDF in their terrorist activities.

Lanes said the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs) are using the IP communities and their ancestral domain to supplant traditional leaders, establish a stable base of operations, corrupt IPs traditional culture, recruit the IPs in their armed group, the NPAs, and obtain international funding.

Lanes also said the IP tribes and their lands are essential to the CPP-NPA-NDF because, primarily, they can use it as a sanctuary for NPA building because of its remoteness from the center of development of LGUs. The NPA recruit the IPs effortlessly because IPs are looking for alternatives to their current estate and with their illiteracy and ignorance, IPs can be easily swayed by NPA propaganda. Also, the NPA can use the location of IPs as a mobility corridor – an escape route to another province or region. These areas are environmentally suited or a favorable terrain for guerilla warfare.

“Ibig sabihin palitan ang mga tradisyonal na lider at palitan ng mga kanilang rebolusyonaryong lider na kontrolado nila at sinisira din nila ang kultura ng tribo upang ito ay iderekta sa armadong pakikibaka (It means change the traditional leader and change their revolutionary leaders who control them and also destroys the tribes’ culture to dictate them the armed struggle),” Lane said.

Read More