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BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved on third and final reading a proposed ordinance institutionalizing the celebration of the August 9 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (IDWIP) in the city and making it an annual activity of the local government.
The ordinance authored by Councilor Arthur Alad-iw stated for the said purpose, a committee will be created to coordinate the activities to be spearheaded by the City Mayor and the Chairman of the City Council Committee on Education, Culture and Historical Research or the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR), if existing.
Aside from the City Mayor and the Chairperson of the City Council Committee on Education, Culture and Historical Research or the IPMR, the members of the committee shall be the Chairperson of the City Council Committee on Tourism, Special Events, Parks and Playgrounds; Chairperson of the Committee on Barangay Affairs; Supervising Tourism Operations |Officer; the City Health Officer; the president of the local chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and IP representatives from Benguet, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Abra, Kalinga, Apayao and representatives of other IP groups from other provinces who are residents of the city.
Among the proposed activities for the said celebration include free medical and dental services, free legal services, indigenous cultural learnings, presentations and indigenous arts exhibits, forum on culture, education, health, human rights and the environment and panel discussions on other issues affecting both the indigenous peoples and non-indigenous peoples and such other activities deemed necessary by the created committee.
The ordinance stipulates all activities in relation to the celebration of the IDWIP shall be included in the calendar of activities of the city.
The ordinance points out that non-indigenous peoples who are residents of the city shall not be denied access to the said services and activities.
The ordinance proposes the allocation of the amount of P200,000 or so much thereof shall be appropriated for the said purpose and shall be included in the annual budget of the local government.
On December 23, 1994, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples should be observed on the 9th of August annually to recognize the first meeting in Geneva, Switzerland in 1982 of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.
The ordinance notes the same is widely observed and the annual celebrations that followed after the UNGA decision significantly strengthened international cooperation in solving problems faced by the world’s indigenous peoples, especially in areas such as culture, education, health, human rights, the environment and social and economic development.
Section 17, Article XIV, of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides that the State shall recognize, respect and promote the rights of indigenous cultural communities to preserve and develop their culture, traditions and institutions. It shall consider the said rights in the formulation of the national plans and policies.
By Dexter A. See
Banner illustration by BFFFI, Panagbenga.