RDC Committees agree to ease FPIC process for researchers

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BAGUIO CITY – The RDC Regional Research, Development, and Innovation Committee (RRDIC) sought the support of the Committee on Indigenous Peoples’ Concerns (CIPC) to recommend changes to the current guidelines on the acquisition of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) of indigenous cultural communities for research during the CIPC meeting on July 2. The RRDIC recommended solutions to alleviate certain concerns of researchers when working with indigenous cultural communities in the region.

The RRDIC chair and DOST-CAR Regional Director Dr. Nancy Bantog noted that researchers of Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSPs) experienced difficulty in complying with the requirements of both the community and the NCIP. DOST-CAR cited three areas of concern: (1) an observed lack of appreciation on FPIC by researchers, (2) the tedious process of securing FPIC, and (3) conflicts with existing NCIP administrative guidelines.

Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is the consent given by all members of the community, free from manipulation and informed with full disclosure by requesting entities, according to the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997. For research purposes, FPIC is needed to proceed with researches involving indigenous communities and their indigenous intellectual property rights, which includes IKSPs.

In a previous meeting, the RRDIC gathered information that many researchers are not aware that securing a community’s consent is necessary prior to the conduct of researches on IKSPs. Rocky Ngalob of NCIP-CAR explained that if only researchers understand the wisdom behind getting prior consent of indigenous communities, then they would treat it not as a mere requirement but as a necessary component of the research process.

NEDA-CAR Regional Director and RRDIC Vice-Chair Milagros Rimando agreed that the FPIC process should be made easier, simpler, and less costly for researchers. The RRDIC also noted that if the projects are community-initiated or government-funded, NCIP Administrative Order no. 3 series of 2012 only requires NCIP validation that project implementers consulted the community. However, Administrative Order no. 1 Series of 2012 requires full FPIC for IKSP projects even if these are government-funded or community-initiated. The RDDIC recommends amending this guideline to allow researchers a simpler path to conducting their research. Accordingly, NCIP en Banc is reviewing its FPIC guidelines.

Although NCIP-CAR recognizes that indigenous cultural communities reserve ownership of the intellectual property rights on IKSPs gathered or documented in researches, it agreed to raise these concerns through the RDC-CAR to the Commissioners en Banc of NCIP.

By Marlo T. Lubguban

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