The genuine recognition and respect for our rights as indigenous peoples to our ancestral domains and the natural resources therein, self determination, and cultural integrity is an aspiration that indigenous peoples in the Philippines continue to fight for. There is neither a law nor a government agency that has truly protected us from violations of these rights.In the Cordillera, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) is known for its blatant disregard of indigenous peoples’ rights by violating our right to Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), and manipulating our FPIC in favour of transnational corporations. For many years, numerous petition letters and declarations of no consent to destructive and large-scale mining and energy projects have been submitted by various indigenous communities to the NCIP. Dialogues with NCIP officials and government officials were likewise conducted to air the grievances and protests of indigenous communities against destructive projects and flawed FPIC process. However, despite community actions to defend indigenous peoples’ rights which are often met with repression and human rights violations, the NCIP continued to manipulate FPIC processes and disregard our rights as indigenous peoples to our lands, resources and self determination.

Among the latest cases of flawed FPIC process which the Cordillera Peoples Alliance has recently submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples involves the Makilala Mining Company’s exploration project (EXPA No. 110) covering 3,159 hectares within the ancestral domain of the Guinaang tribe in Kalinga. On December 6, 2013, the Guinaang tribe filed a complaint at the NCIP provincial office in Kalinga and the Regional Hearing Officer of the NCIP Regional Office on the anomalous conduct of the FPIC process. In response, however, NCIP-Kalinga declared that there were no FPIC irregularities, while the NCIP Regional Hearing Officer dismissed the complaint.

There is no doubt that in many instances the NCIP failed to heed indigenous peoples’ clamour for the respect of indigenous peoples’ rights, for genuine FPIC and respect for community decision-making systems, and for genuine recognition of ancestral land rights. And due to the fact that the NCIP connives with corporations to ensure the entry of destructive projects in our ancestral lands even at the expense of our human rights, the NCIP has no credibility to be an agency that promotes indigenous peoples’ rights and welfare.

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance and its affiliates have been part of and supported community efforts and initiatives in asserting and upholding indigenous peoples’ rights and wellbeing at local, national and international levels, including engaging the NCIP and other Philippine government agencies, local government units, Philippine legislative body, and the United Nations. The NCIP must immediately correct its mistakes and wrongdoings such as manipulating FPIC process and issuing anomalous Certificates of Ancestral Land/Domain Titles (CALTs/CADTs), among others.#

References:

Bestang Dekdeken, CPA Secretariat

Abigail Anongos, Secretary General

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