The last bastion of natural resources is located within the ancestral domains, according to National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Chair Allen Arat Capuyan.
Capuyan, who is also the executive director of the National Secretariat of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, said this makes indigenous peoples vital to the preservation of the country’s natural resources.
Capuyan, who graced the Indigenous Peoples Month celebration and 22nd commemoration of the passage of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act in Baguio City on Oct. 11,said the IPs represent only 15 to 17 percent of the national population
“The last bastion for natural resources is in the ancestral domain. We talk of biodiversity, we talk of ecosystem, we talk of water it is in the ancestral domain; we talk of climate change, we talk of reforestation, everything is there,” Capuyan said.
To help protectIPs within ancestral domains, the NCIP is trying to mainstream the issues of the IPs by making representations in various levels of local government units, from the barangay to the national.
He said the agency has recently consolidated issues besetting IPs. Foremost of the issues besetting the IPs are previous decisions of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and his own agency, the NCIP.
With the recent commission en banc meeting, he said they will review the previous decisions conducted by previous commissions affecting the various IPs of the country.
“Kaya sabi ko po i-review natin lahat ng decision ng mga commissions. Iyong mga desisyon na magaganda at kailangan pang ma-reinforce, palakasin natin yan. Kung may mga desisyon na sa tingin natin na sa ngayon ay hindi na tama, gagawan natin ng adjustment. Because the present commission is the bearer of all decisions since the first commission,” he said.
Kalinga Rep. Allen Jesse Mangaoang, also the chair of the House Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples, said among the pending bills in the House of Representatives is House Bill 639 which seeks for the “protection and strengthening of the indigenous peoples and local communities conserved areas, recognizing their contribution to biodiversity conservation, establishing for the purpose the national indigenous community conserved areas registry.”
“This is in recognition of the IPs as the best people to conserve their land,” Mangaoang said. – Ofelia C. Empian