BAGUIO CITY – Hundreds of indigenous peoples (IP) leaders will converge in an upcoming assembly of Cordillera IP elders at the Ibaloi Park on Wednesday, May 8, 2019 to discuss ways on how to unify issues and concerns affecting them and advance the same in the national scene.
Newly appointed Commissioner Gaspar Cayat of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) said that the gathering is an initiative of the IP leaders from the different parts of the region to allow them to exchange ideas on how to unify their efforts in lobbying for appropriate national interventions on the issues and concerns confronting their welfare as well as for the preservation and protection of their domain from being intruded by big business groups and multinational companies.
The theme of the gathering is “strengthening Unity and Teamwork of Indigenous Peoples’ and that the activity will run through the day until such time that there will be a collective decision among the IP leaders on how to effectively and efficiently convince the local and national governments to heed their plight.
“We have been initially consulting with our indigenous peoples leaders from the different parts of the region and the conduct of this upcoming regional IP assembly was an offshoot of the said dialogues for them to be able to discuss with their fellow leaders the appropriate modes on how to gain support for their plight,” Cayat stressed.
He pointed out that one of the priority issues that will be discussed include the intrusion of their ancestral domain and the strict adherence of prospective developers of resources to the conduct of the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) as mandated by the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigeous Peoples Rrights Act (IPRA).
According to him, all issues and concerns of the IPs must have to be put in their proper perspective to ensure that the rights of the IPs over their ancestral domain will be protected and to prevent developers and multinational companies from forcibly invading their vested rights over their properties in the guise of development among other issues.
Under the IPRA, companies intending to explore, exploit and develop the resources of the State within the ancestral domain of IPs must first secure the free and prior consent of the affected IPs prior to the introduction of development activities in the desired areas.
Cayat called on interested IP leaders from the different parts of the region to actively participate in the upcoming IP assembly so that they will be able to provide the needed inputs on how IPs will deal with the prevailing issues and concerns within their ancestral domains, especially that a good number of areas in the region had been declared as such by the concerned IPs who had been preserving and protecting their domains since time in memorial.
The NCIP Commissioner expressed optimism on the success of the upcoming assembly of IP leaders regionwide so that the IPs will have a stronger leverage in fighting for their rights over their ancestral domain against the interests of big business developers and multinational companies and for the IPs to be given due recognition for having preserved and protected their properties not only for decades but also for centuries.