May 18, 2024

House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda of Antique has filed a bill seeking to strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights of indigenous peoples in the highlands after counterfeit Cordillera woven fabrics from China flooded the local markets.
Legarda likewise urged the Lower House special committee on creative industry and performing arts to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the counterfeit garments coming from abroad and appropriating the weave patterns from the Cordillera.
“Such influx of counterfeit goods poses a risk to rural livelihoods of indigenous cultural communities in terms of market competition and is also to the detriment of sustaining their culture and creative productivity,” Legarda’s bill reads.
Legarda has cited the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, which mandates the State “to preserve, protect, and develop the past, present, and future manifestations of their cultures as well as the right to the restitution of cultural, intellectual, religious, and spiritual property taken without their free and prior informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.”
The lawmaker urged the committee to also revisit the laws on the protection of traditional property rights of the IPs. 
“Explicit systems, procedures, legal protections, and remedies should be made available and easily accessible to our indigenous peoples and communities who are threatened by these imports,” the bill read.
Legarda further urged the committee to create a comprehensive cultural archive of cultural properties of the different ethno-linguistic groups of the country, to record, classify, organize and protect them.
“Let us not allow the desecration of our creative, traditional and intellectual property rights as a people, and as a nation. It is our responsibility to fight for, promote and preserve our creative expressions, and heritage that is uniquely Filipino,” she said.
Earlier, Cordillera weaving entrepreneurs wrote the city government calling for the ban of machine-printed fabrics replicating the designs of hand-woven Cordilleran textiles, which are sold in commercial establishments in the city and outside the region at a cheaper price.  – Ofelia C. Empian