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WEEK'S MAIL
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BEFADIPO’s statement on the BLISTT development concept
MARCELO A. ABELA, BEFADIPO president and chair, council of elders, La Trinidad, Benguet

For the past weeks, local papers have been reporting about the activation of the Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay (BLISTT) development concept. It was also reported a governing council was organized with the mayor of Baguio as chair and the LISTT mayors as members. Subsequent pronouncements allegedly from the chair painted a rosy future in terms of progress and development for the component municipalities.

However, there is no mention of the adverse effects of the joint urban development plan, especially on indigenous peoples to be affected in the covered areas.

It should be pointed out, if the governing council members are not yet aware, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay, and all the municipalities in Benguet for that matter, are declared as individual ancestral domains with Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles approved by the NCIP about five years ago.

As such, the domain’s communal owners are entitled to rights to their ancestral domain which includes, among others, the right to safe and clean air and water, right to develop lands and natural resources, right to determine and decide priorities for development and right to participate in decision making per sections 8, 16, and 17 of Republic Act 8371, or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.

While we are not opposing the BLISTT development concept per se, concerned IP organizations in the five municipal ancestral domains feel apprehensive and insulted because they are not being consulted on this matter that will greatly affect their domain.

For these reasons, the Benguet Federation of Ancestral Domain Indigenous Peoples Organization (BEFADIPO) came out with Resolution 2014-02, requesting the BLISTT governing council to conduct extensive coordination and consultations with municipal ancestral domain owners through their respective IPOs in the LISTT towns regarding the BLISTT concept.

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