BAGUIO CITY – The chairman of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) urged investors to partner with indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples (ICCs-IPs) in the exploitation, utilization and development of the rich resources of the State that are within their ancestral domain.
NCIP chairman Allen Capuyan underscored that the last bus station of the country’s natural resources is located within the ancestral domain of IPs that is why prospective investors must either partner with IPs or trike a joint venture with them to ensure the responsible development of such resources.
He pointed out that investors should not antagonize the IPs, especially in securing their free and prior informed consent (FPIC) for the development of the natural resources that are within their ancestral domain, but instead ensure that they stand to benefit from such activity by providing them the optimum royalty among other benefits that they could use to improve the quality of life in their places.
“Indigenous peoples are vital to the preservation of the country’s natural resources because most of the said resources are within their ancestral domain, thus, investors must win their hearts before pursuing the development of the resources within their midst,” Capuyan stressed.
The NCIP chairman claimed that to help protect IPs within ancestral domains, the agency is trying to mainstream the issues of the IPs by making representations in various levels of local governments from the barangays to the national offices, thus, it was able to consolidate issues besetting IPs, particularly previous decisions of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the NCIP wherein the same will be reviewed and be revised to suit the prevailing situation of IPs in the different parts of the country.
Capuyan pointed out that Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples rights Act (IPRA) was passed over 22 years ago purposely to solve the injustices that have been committed by the government and the private sectors against the IPs but the same was also used against the IPs or it was used by educated IPs against their fellow IPs which was not supposed to be the case.
Capuyan emphasized that IPs must not be shortchanged in terms of the benefits that they stand to receive from the exploitation, development and utilization of the rich resources that are within their ancestral domain that is why investors must either partner with them or engage them in a joint venture to ensure that they will be receiving the maximum benefits from the resources that were preserved and protected by their ancestors and were passed on to the present generation of IPs.
Capuyan stipulated IPs deserve the special treatment provided to them by the provisions of IPRA that is why investors must take into consideration that they cannot operate their desired businesses within the domain of IPs if they will not get their consent, thus, the best thing to do is have the IPs as their partners to ensure that IP will also enjoy the fruits of development in their places.