October, Indigenous Peoples’ Month

By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
www.nordis.net

October 11, Friday, was also the 30th year of the Northern Dispatch Weekly as the Diaryo iti Umili ti Amianan as it ‘morphs’ from the printed copy (the mimeographed news dispatch into the tabloid format) into the trendy digital copy format online. Follow it on its Facebook page and Twitter (@nordisonline) or on its website www.nordis.net. Happy Anniversary!

October 11, in Baguio, government (LGU -NCIP) has organized a celebration of sorts for IP month in Baguio City, “IPRA @22,” on the theme “Indigenous people as partners in attaining inclusive peace and sustainable development,” which includes a cultural parade from Malcolm to PFVR for an opening ritual, the cultural program and press conference. Note, that the march was uphill Session road. Unusual but practical most parades used to start from the Convention Center or the Post Office to the Malcolm Square. This program’s venue was at upper Session road.

It is also the first time Baguio and the Cordillera meet the new Chair of the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples and the commission en banc. In their meeting was an “IP hour” with members of the different indigenous peoples’ groups in the Cordillera and the Ibalois in Baguio. It seems the commission heads spent some four days here to listen and learn of the issues in the Cordillera. People know that that is not enough time to hear all or even just the urgent IP issues at hand, but the commission tried. The IP hour meet for Baguio was supposed to start at 6 pm, but it began after the officials en banc had to have supper. It ran onto 10 pm when the facilitators tried to cut it short, but then on an important note, it went on to 1030 and again on until past 11 pm. The consultation could have run until 7 am the next day, but they too are human,

It is said, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act was promulgated to correct the historical injustice committed against their collective populations centuries ago, but that injustice continues today, with impunity. Uncanny that the IPRA authored after EDSA and upheld by the Supreme Court in 1997 is even withheld or has also been used against the indigenous peoples for decades after it was celebrated as being passed into Philippine law, as some described, “ahead of the UN Declaration of the Rights for Indigenous Peoples.”

At the program, the emcee passed the microphone to the Chair to introduce himself and set the tone for the afternoon “IP Hour.” He said he was appointed by the president, whom he said: “wants to mainstream indigenous peoples’ issues.” He is also the executive director of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. His advocacy for indigenous peoples started in 1999 in Mindanao, and as chair of NCIP, he expressed, “we can only be as good as the community around us.”

He also shared that he wants his tenure to be “vibrant, consultative …” and asks his people to “sit down consult and discuss to come up with a solution. NCIP is only as good as the community around (it),” he repeated.

Towards the end of his speech, he said, “I believe in the wisdom of the elders. Please trust us again. We need time to move forward, let us respect the rights of our indigenous people.”

In Baguio, that historical injustice committed particularly against an Igorot was heard and condemned by the US Supreme Court some 110 years ago. Check out the Doctrine of Native Title, a Supreme Court decision that has yet to see execution. It is said that this doctrine is the basis of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act today, and the creation of the NCIP which are even used to prolong the injustice, check out section 78 of the IPRA. # nordis.net

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