September 28, 2023

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples provincial office is pushing for the operationalization of the 11 building blocks of resilient, responsive and relevant indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples.

These building blocks provided in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) are confirmation of indigenous political structure (IPS); registration and accreditation of indigenous peoples organizations; certificate of ancestral domain title and certificate of ancestral land title delineation process; establishment of ancestral domain management office; ancestral domain sustainable development and protection plan formulation; IP wealth management-community resource management development plan formulation; institutionalization of certification precondition: Free, prior and informed consent and exercise of priority rights; effective indigenous peoples mandatory representative (IPMR) in local legislative bodies; efficient and enhanced agreement formulation, socio-economic activities with IP cooperatives, and ancestral domain defense system.

Provincial NCIP Director Catherine Gayagay-Apaling said support in the implementation of the building blocks will bring to fruition the purpose of the IPRA, which is to rectify historical injustices and the recognition, respect, protection and promotion of ICC/IP rights.

During the seven days visit to the 46 ancestral domains in Kalinga, NCIP encouraged IPMRs, community elders and the youth to work on the implementation of these building blocks.

Of the 46 ancestral domains in Kalinga, only Guilayon, Lubo and Bangad have been issued a certificate of ancestral domain title.

NCIP representatives said that if IPS are not strengthened and operational, it will result to the domination of few who are exposed to the mainstream culture of cash economy, individualism, materialism and consumerism at the expense of weak members, customary laws, sacred traditions and indigenous knowledge systems and practices. “It will become a thing of the past. Collective rights will be gone and ancestral domains will be divided into pieces and will land in the hands of the non-IPs,” the NCIP said.

Apaling explained that denial of IPMR in local legislative bodies violates the right of ICCs/IPs to participate in decision-making causing difficulty to raise ICCs/IPs concerns that need to be addressed by local government unit policy and decision making bodies.

Establishment of an ancestral domains defense system will also help ICCs/IPs in regulating the entry of migrants and will help prevent the degradation of culture, customs and institutions, Apaling said.

ICCs/IPs also has the right to be consulted on any undertaking that outsiders intend to do within their ancestral domain and to ensure their participation in the development process.

Roger Ngao-i also of NCIP said “the non-establishment of a defense system will weaken the IPs of the ICCs and could lead to infiltration by leftist groups and other opportunistic individuals and/or groups. IP defense system is one of the many systems under indigenous institutions that stood for centuries and doing nothing about this will result to uncontrolled intrusion to the ancestral domains and unregulated use of resources by outsiders. 

In the general, if the building blocks are not implemented properly, NCIP’s reason to exist will cease and the IPs lives, beliefs, institutions, spiritual well-being and the lands they own, occupy and use will negatively be affected. – Peter A. Balocnit