TAGAYTAY CITY (Oct. 24) — A group of government planners and decision-makers agreed to get their act together to address the indigenous peoples’ (IP) agenda in all major programs involved in IP rights advocacy.
To get the government bodies to sit down for the advancement of indigenous peoples’ rights was a joint endeavor of both government and non-government organizations who conducted an orientation seminar on indigenous rights and issues.
A joint undertaking by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the German Protestant Church Development Service Philippine Partners’ Task Force Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (EEDTFIP), the two-day seminar for third level government officials gathered more than 50 focal persons and decision-makers on October 22 to 24 in Tagaytay City.
“The activity came in time with the passing of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP),” said Jill Cariño, EEDTFIP convener. The coming together of government focal persons, according to Cariño, is a move forward to advance indigenous peoples’ rights.
Cariño was introduced in the said forum as a direct descendant of the Ibaloy icon Mateo Cariño in whose favor the then US Supreme Court decision upholding native title in 1905.
The orientation dwelt on the situation of indigenous peoples, the historical perspectives on indigenous peoples’ identity and rights; national and international policy instruments.
Included in the orientation are workshops on land use and resources; social services; human rights and empowerment; cultural heritage; and planning and budgeting. In these workshops, government officials agreed on how to address the complex and complicated IP agenda in their respective departments.
It turned out during the discussions and workshops that government agencies need to harmonize their functions up to the village implementors’ level, especially on the issues involving ancestral land rights.
“There is a need to strengthen the convergence to have a focused implementation of the IP agenda,” said NCIP Executive Director Rosalina L. Bistoyong, who synthesized the results of five workshops. She said there is a need to form a technical working group to unify and institutionalize the IP agenda in major government programs.
The orientation for government officials in Tagaytay City is among the series of activities EEDTFIP has conducted for the advancement of IP rights.
In Palawan, IP leaders from all over Luzon had a leaders’ training seminar-workshop last May 3-5. The training which focused on advocacy campaigns for IP issues including skills in public speaking and lobby work was also sponsored by EEDTFIP.
In Mindanao, EEDTFIP conducted another forum on IP farming systems which confirmed these to be more sustainable than the modern commercial farming methods.
“We have a practice in the Cordillera which is akin to what we just did – gathering people, discussing vital community issues and coming up with agreements,” Cariño told government officials in her closing remarks, referring to the Ibaloy tongtong, which, she lamented, is fast becoming unpopular.
Present during the activity are representatives of the National Statistics Office, National Statistical Coordinating Board, Mines and Geo-science Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, National Center for Disease Prevention and Control of the Department of Health, Department of Education, National Police Commission, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Justice, Office of the Solicitor-General, Supreme Court, Presidential Human Rights Commission, National Anti-Poverty Commission, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Technical Education Skills Development Authority and the NCIP. # Lyn V. Ramo for NORDIS