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NCIP: Empowering IPs in cultural communities

By Jason B. Neola


Mandated to empower the country’s indigenous cultural communities, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) is pushing for the operationalization of certain approaches that will help them to become resilient and responsive.


Serves as the NCIP’s primary efforts to develop relevant and capacitated tribes of indigenous peoples (IPs), the approaches, called the 11 building blocks, which are contained in the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA), are being put into work in collaboration with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other concerned government agencies.


The 11 building blocks are the confirmation of Indigenous Political Structures, registration and accreditation of Indigenous Peoples Organizations, Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title/Certificate of Ancestral Land Title, Establishment of Ancestral Domains Management Office;


Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan formulation, IP Wealth Management-Community Resource Management and Development Plan formulation, institutionalization of Certificate Precondition: Free and Prior Informed Consent and Exercise of Priority Rights;


Effective Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representatives in the local legislative bodies, formulation of efficient and enhanced memorandum of agreement, cooperation, or understanding with other partner entities for the use of their ancestral domains, socio-economic activities with IP cooperatives, and the ancestral domain defense system.


In an interview with Bicol Mail, NCIP Regional Director Agosto B. Maglunsod said the implementation of the building blocks, which is expected to realize the purpose of the IPRA to correct historical injustice and to promote, protect, respect and recognize the ICC/IP rights, reels off with support from the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representatives (IPMRs), the elders and the youth of the cultural communities.


The designation of IPMRs gives way to the achievement of one of the rights of indigenous peoples to have representations in the local legislatures of the government from the Sangguniang Barangay to the Sangguniang Bayan or Sangguniang Panlungsod to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.


The selection of IPMR, who represent the general concerns and welfare of his tribe, is in accordance with the guidelines adopted and promulgated by themselves.

NCIP Regional Director Agosto Maglunsod (leftmost) administers the oath taking of five members of indigenous cultural communities conducted on February 20, 2023. Photo shows Medalla Sadang of San Roque Communal in Ocampo; Fe Blessie Cordez, Hanawan, Ocampo; Nolie Angeles, Aniog, Sagñay; Jacob Bautista, Turague, Sagñay; and Prese Bradecina of Payatan, Goa, all in the province of Camarines Sur, take their oath as Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representatives (IPMRs) who are going to perform their duties as regular members of their respective Sangguniang Barangays as provided in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA). Photo courtesy of Rosalinda Magistrado, NCIP


In Bicol Region, Maglunsod said, there are 4 kinds of indigenous peoples (IPs) who live in indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) located in different Bicol provinces: the Agta Isarog and Agta Tabangnon in Camarines Sur, the Kabihug Minede in Camarines Norte, and the Agta Cimarron in Masbate and Sorsogon.


Agta settlements in other Bicol provinces were believed to be products of migrations by early tribesmen of Agta Tabangnon, Minede, and Cimarron.


The NCIP has registered 135,000 IPs in the entire Bicol Region, 85,000 of that number live in different ICCs in Camarines Sur.


Maglunsod said the establishment of an Ancestral Domains Defense System in any of these tribes will enable their members to regulate the entry of migrants in their respective ICCs, a policy that will help to prevent the degradation of their culture, customs and institutions.


He said the tribesmen have the right also to be consulted or asked of their First and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) on any undertaking that outsiders intend to do within the ancestral domain and to ensure the IPs’ participation in the development process.


“We have to secure also these Agta communities from the leftist groups and other bands of terrorists that is why we continue to strengthen the defense system within the ICCs. Non-establishment of defense system will weaken the indigenous political structure of the tribes that could lead to infiltration by outlaws which may result in the disturbance of the ancestral domains and wanton utilization of resources by outsiders,” Maglunsod said.

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