Indigenous peoples in Bicol: Protect us from discrimination

By Ana-liza Macatangay


The country must exert more effort to protect the indigenous peoples (IP) from all forms of discrimination that would make their growing tribes feel inferior or as ‘outcasts’ in the society.


This was the message of young members of IP tribes during a convention of Provincial IP Youth Federation and Provincial Indigenous Peoples' Mandatory Representation (IPMR) league at San Ramon Elementary School covered court in Iriga City on July 14.


NCIP Bicol Development Management Officer and concurrent NCIP Camarines Sur Provincial Officer Agnes Salvino said to date, there are more than 20,000 IPs settled in various parts of the province.


“We want this society to take cognizance of the presence of IPs, make them part of the local council and allow them to take part in decision-making. It is our task to bring this to the fore as we aim for equality for the greater good of the IP community,” Salvino said.


National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Regional Director Agosto B. Malunsod said that empowering the IPs is one of their end goals in conducting activities like the gathering of IP Youth federation and IPMR league.


“This activity is more on the empowerment of Indigenous People para mag karoon sila ng talagang coordination sa ating LGU and then para ma-empower yong community natin. Ito kasing Indigenous People Mandatory Representative malinaw satin IPRA 8371 in section 16 for the leaders to participate in decision making, from barangay to provinces dapat magkaroion tayo ng representative,” Malunsod added.


The NCIP has partnered with the indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples through its indigenous peoples structures to ensure the participation of the IPs in local councils and in policy making. This is part of the implementation of the IPMR.


Malunsod also stated that the NCIP has a lot of programs lined up for the IP youth like scholarship grants. This has produced graduates who are now working in various offices in the country.


In the Bicol region, there are at least 3 IP graduates who are now working at the NCIP Regional office and 98 Educational Assistance Program grantees now working as educators at the Department of Education. Another grantee is now a uniformed personnel at the Philippine National Police.


There are also 102 Barangay IPMR and 3 municipal IPMRs in the towns of Buhi, Sagñay and Goa.


IP communities in Camarines Sur thrive in the municipalities of Goa, Sagñay, Tigaon, Ocampo, Buhi, Iriga and Baao. (PIA/Camarines Sur)