By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
QUEZON CITY — Igorots with other indigenous peoples and Moros trooped to the House of Representatives today, September 5 to ask congress representatives to disapprove the budget for and abolish the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
The House of Representatives is set to hear the budget proposal of the NCIP for its 2018 national expenditures today.
Windel Bolinget, chairperson of the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) said the NCIP should be abolished because not only did it fail to protect the rights and welfare of indigenous peoples and national minorities but the agency ushered the entry of large-scale and destructive mining and energy projects in IP ancestral lands.
Bolinget said the NCIP has been railroading the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) processes to favor transnational mining and energy corporations. He added that IPs have submitted numerous petition papers and engaged in dialogues with the NCIP to register their opposition against mining ang energy projects but to no avail.
Bolinget also said that NCIP never lifted a finger while indigenous human rights defenders were being murdered and indigenous communities were being attacked by state security forces. He said that NCIP must also be held accountable for these killings and human rights violations. He said that the entry of capitalist mining and energy projects in the Cordillera is accompanied with the deployment of government troops.
“We condemn NCIP’s silence on the continuing extrajudicial killings of indigenous leaders and militarization of communities resulting in various human rights violations,” Bolinget said.
Bolinget said the NCIP served as a tool for further oppression of indigenous peoples across the country for the institutionalization of ancestral land grabbing for capitalist mining and other destructive projects and outright violation of indigenous peoples right to self-determination.
“Enough experience and lessons have been drawn for the past 20 years, all leading to the conclusion that IPRA deserves to be scrapped and NCIP immediately abolished as indigenous peoples pursue demands and struggles for comprehensive rights,” Bolinget said.
“Our strategic and best option is to firmly and consistently reject IPRA as an inutile and deceptive law and sustain the call for the abolition of NCIP, while asserting self-determination and people’s empowerment at the grassroots level as an immediate alternative,” Bolinget added.
According to CPA data, among the latest cases of the flawed FPIC process include the 390-megawatt Alimit hydropower project in Ifugao, the 120-megawatt Daklan geothermal project in Benguet, and other energy applications in Mountain Province, Abra and Benguet that are set to displace more indigenous communities.
In mining, the Lepanto Mining Company has been granted a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) that covers 777 hectares in Mankayan; Nickel Asia-Cordillera Exploration Company Inc (CEXCI) has filed applications exploration and renewal of operations that would cover more than 60,000 hectares of ancestral lands in the six provinces of the Cordillera and the adjacent Ilocos Sur.
The NCIP has also twisted indigenous socio-political structures to its benefit. In Mankayan, Benguet, the NCIP created a questionable Council of Elders to represent the people that railroaded the FPIC processes in converting Lepanto’s MPSA into a financial and technical agreement (FTA). In many cases, the NCIP has become the spokesperson and defender of mining and energy companies.
CPA enumerated more transgressions of the NCIP that include the non-recognition of prior property rights of the Kankanaey in Mankayan, Benguet in favor of the ISMI’s MPSA application (1999); manipulation of the FPIC process in Bakun, Benguet in favor of the mining application of Royalco (2009), manipulation of FPIC process in Mankayan on the expansion of Lepanto and its application to convert its MPSA application into FTAA (2013); issuance of certifications of pre conditions to several mining corporations from 1998 to 2000 without the FPIC of affected communities which resulted in the approval of 9 MPSAs, non-recognition of the rejection or opposition of indigenous communities to a project; manipulation of FPIC process for the entry of big energy projects such as Chevron in Guinaang, Kalinga and Hedcor in Sabangan, and Philcarbon in Sagada, Mountain Province Cause of boundary disputes and tribal conflicts due to CADCs and CADTs and issuance of questionable CALTs and CADTs to bogus claimants as in the case of Baguio City among others. # nordis.net