August 28, 2011 in Cordillera
By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Under 2nd reading at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) is an ordinance requiring persons engaged or is intending to engage in projects that require free prior and informed consent (FPIC) process to seek indorsement from the August body before commencing or implementing their projects.
Projects were identified as Hydro-electric power plants, mining operations, quarrying, sand and gravel operations, engineered sanitary landfill, among others.
The body according to the draft ordinance observed that and received a number of resolutions, petitions, and complaints from several communities/groups of indigenous peoples raising the same concern which is the violation on the FPIC process.
The violation it added is either committed by the proponent company or “the designated protector and promoter of the rights and welfare of IPs – the NCIP (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples)”.
Earlier, the body was complaining because in the FPIC process, they are just invited by the NCIP to be observers and projects needs only two LGU indorsements before implementing their projects. The SP they said are just copy furnished with information from the proponent’s project.
However, when there is a violation in the FPIC process, affected IP communities always seek the help of the body. This prompted them to enact such ordinance.
Moreover, the proposed ordinance is a way of the SP to invoke their power stipulated in Section 468 of the Republic Act No 7160 or the Local Government Code which is to protect the environment and to adopt measures and safeguards against pollution and for the preservation of natural ecosystem of the province.
“The local government code of 1991 empowers the local legislative bodies to enact ordinances for the promotion and protection of the general welfare of the inhabitants,” the draft ordinance reads.
Considering that the integrity and impartiality of the NCIP is being questioned, the body finds it necessary to enact ordinance requiring all persons engaged with afore mentioned projects to seek indorsement from the SP before commencing with their projects.
On the other hand, government projects are not covered by the ordinance. In the draft, any person violating the ordinance shall be penalized with one year imprisonment and for the case of corporation or partnership, same penalty shall be applied to its officers or directors. # nordis.net