June 23, 2024

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera modified the guidelines for Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP) research and documentation for local indigenous people (IP) researchers.

 NCIP Administrative Order (AO) No. 1 s. 2012 currently governs the IKSP and customary law research and documentation.

 However, the free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) process mandated under the AO presents a significant hurdle for a local IP researcher seeking to access and document their own ancestral knowledge within their communities, said Rocky Ngalob of NCIP-Cordillera.

Ngalob said the current guidelines fail to acknowledge the diverse cultural characteristics of different indigenous cultural communities or IPs in the Cordillera and the system treats all IPs as a homogenous group, unintentionally undermining their right to self-determination.

“The IKSP guidelines, while well-intentioned, have discouraged local IP students, faculty, academic institutions, and civil society organizations from undertaking IKSP research and customary laws documentation. Apart from the obvious financial constraints, this discouragement primarily stems from the perception that IP researchers, as ancestral domain owners/claimants, need consent to document their own collective heritage,” Ngalob said.

With the modified local guidelines, the research and documentation of IP researchers in the Cordillera will be expedited.

An IP local researcher is defined as “a member of the IP community engaged in IKSP and customary law research concerning his or her own IKSP.”

Among the salient features of the modified guidelines are the clear distinction of local IP researchers, due accommodation to local IP researchers, devolution of discretion or due recognition of authority of the IP community through the IP leaders in the conduct of the process as an expression of self-determination, and output validation of existing IKSP researches for the issuance of certification precondition.

 “We will recognize the discretion of the community through their elders for their own FPIC. It is the elders acting in behalf of the community who will be given discretion to give consent for IP local researchers,” Ngalob said.

The local IP researcher will fully disclose the content and extent of his/her research to the elders. The IP leader will then ascertain and attest if indeed the researcher is a local IP before endorsing the research to the NCIP for the issuance of notice to proceed.

After the research documentation, the output will undergo a thorough validation process within the IP community. A memorandum of agreement that outlines the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved in the research and its output will be signed.

Following the output validation process, the local IP researcher must submit to the NCIP Regional Director the community certificate of validation, MOA (if applicable), and other documents that will serve as a basis for the regional director to issue a certification precondition, which signifies that the local IP researcher has fulfilled all the requirements outlined in the guidelines.

 NCIP-Cordillera Director Roland Calde said, “This is one way of encouraging the local government and line agencies to tap the local researchers.”

The implementation of the modified local guidelines will be temporary on hold until the NCIP en banc ratifies the amendments to AO 1, s. 2012. – Debbie E. Gasingan