By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
QUEZON CITY — Study on the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) show that there is a need for a total reform within the commission.
On the first day of the four-day activity in celebration of the International IP day, researchers from the University of the Philippines – Baguio presented before the IP delegates their study on the commission. Some of the parts of the study are: Governance and the NCIP by Dr. Alejandro Ciencia Jr.; Ancestral Domain titling and registration by Atty Nimreh Calde; Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP) by Dr. Corazon Abansi; self governance and empowerment with focus on free prior and informed consent (FPIC) by Maileenita Penalba; the quasi-Judicial powers of the agency and its implications to the Philippine state powers by Calde; cultural integrity: protection and preservation of IP culture, traditions and institutions by Arvin Manuel Villalon; social justice with focus on IP education by Dr. Leah Enkiwe-Abayao; and the Agency’s budget by Santos Jose Dacanay III.
One of the highlights of the study is the agency’s budget, Dacanay pointed out that NCIP is not actually poor. “Mayaman po ang NCIP,” (the NCIP is rich) he said. He said, aside from the budget that is being alloted by the Department of Budget Management (DBM), they are also receiving donations from funding agencies specially in the international level.
This aspect created uproar among the nationwide IP delegation saying that this is contrary to what the commission was telling them whenever they asked for help.
In the data secured from the Commission on Audit (COA), it was found out that 60% of their annual fund goes to personnel services while 40% goes to IP services. In the 40%, Dacanay said, the bulk of it goes to their Educational Assistance Program (EAP) which he said is a palliative because of the lapses in maintenance and management of funds, misuse of funds and cases of unqualified grantees. This is evident he added in the perenial complaints on delayed release and even non payment of the EAP.
In 2004, stale checks worth P128,500 which were in the hands of the grantees were not en cashed. Moreover, in Region XIII, EAP funds were used to pay expenses that were not directly related to the program.
Unliquidated cash advances
Further, at the end of 2009, un liquidated cash advances of the commission stood at P36.6 million. This Dacanay said include the cash advances of former NCIP officials. Also, disallowance or “the disapproval in audit of a transaction” reached P9.5 million.
“This only shows how loose the commission is in terms of financial management,” Dacanay added.
On the other hand, he questioned the term “donations” being used by NCIP referring to the budget they are giving to the IPs in terms of social development projects. These money he said is the rightful share of the IPs thus, it is not correct to call it donations. “The budget is not given as charity from the commission,” he added.
Governance and the NCIP
Under governance and the NCIP study, it was found that the President’s regard for the agency had a big impact on the agency’s implementation of the IPRA. “Walang katiyakan o di kaya ay kulang ang pagbibigay halaga ng mga nagdaang presidente sa mga katutubo,” the study said. Also, the relations of the agency with other agencies mattered. During Fidel Ramos’ time, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had contradicting mandates.
Moreover, during the Estrada regime, DBM cut down the budget of the agency. And with the Arroyo administration wherein she actively supported the mining industry, the agency was forced to follow.
When it comes to Ancestral Domain titling and registration, since the formation of the agency 158 Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADT), 89 ADSDPPs were issued while 312 FPICs were issued. Calde said it shows how the agency fast tracked the issuance of certification preconditions (CP) for projects such as mining and others. On the other hand, ADSDPP that according to Abansi is a road map to sustainable future of IP communities did not seem to be a priority of the agency.
It was also found out that some CADTs were given to corporations instead of IP communities. With these, researchers said, it clearly shows that the priority of the state or the agency itself is not the IPs.
On self governance and empowerment
In this aspect, NCIP since 2002 to 2009 in the study made by Penalba states that mandatory representation of IPs to legislative councils and other local policymaking bodies were made possible. IP consultative body in different levels of government were created and tribal barangays and certification of tribal membership were also created among others.
With these data, Penalba said, it seems that the NCIP has facilitated IP’s integration into the existing, mainstream decision making bodies rather than empowering them to use their Indigenous Socio Political Systems (ISPS) that would equate to self governance.
Even in the quasi-judicial powers of the agency like the Regional Hearing Office (RHO), Calde said there was no difference from the regular judicial process. This would result he said to strengthening of state powers over the IP communities.
On cultural integrity
Study showed that the agency did not prioritize culture. “Only 2% of the NCIP’s budget was alloted to cultural work,” Villalon said. He added that among the 15 reported research on Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP) only one was completed and submitted.
Instead, Villalon said, the agency supported festivals showing the objective to commercialize and exoticize the indigenous culture. This he said is contrary to the role to protect culture.
Moreover, Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, the executive director of the Tebtebba foundation shared that in one of the meetings of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UN CERD), representative from the Philippines (from NCIP) said there is no racial discrimination in the country. “This was an outright disregard on the issues faced by the IPs nationwide,” she said.
Corpuz however added that CERD doubted their pronouncement. According to her, the committee said, the fact that the country legislated a law that respects IP rights (IPRA), this is already recognizing that there is actually racial discrimination happening in the country.
The IPs then called for the total revamp of the NCIP as stated in their IP agenda submitted last year to PNoy. Also, they called for an independent evaluation/review of NCIP’s personnel performance. The fraudulently awarded titles to false claimants should according to them be investigated and rectified. # nordis.net