VICE President Maria Leni Robredo seeks for a review on laws for Indigenous People to ensure their inclusivity in policy making.
In an interview after a speaking engagement at the 2017 National Indigenous Peoples Education Program held at University of Southern Philippines (Usep) Mintal Campus, Robredo said that she is pushing for the wider participation of the IPs.
"Tingin ko, kailangan i-review iyong IP laws, kailangan i-review iyong mga programa ng mga IP, pati iyong NCIP, pinu-push natin mas malaki din participation ng actual members ng IP communities para napapakinggan iyong boses," Robredo said.
She added that she wants to amend the spaces for participation for the IPs.
"Kasi as of now, walang batas na nag-mamandate na dapat may participation sila sa local development councils, local legislative councils, sa mga sectoral groups. Ang ating pinu-push sana, kasi ang mayroon lang ngayon ang department order na ang asawa ko pa ang gumawa. Department order nabigyan sila ng seat sa local legislative councils, tingin natin hindi ito enough," she added.
She said that department orders can be changed once there are changes of the administration, so she wanted it to be passed into law.
"Maisabatas na pag hindi siya sinusunod, mayroong penalties para doon sa mga hindi sumusunod," she added.
Robredo said the IPs participation is crucial in the development councils and legislative councils as it may also change the policies.
"Kulang na kulang ang policy ngayon pero hindi natin alam na kulang unless sabihan nila tayo. So ang pinakasusi sana, sila mismo ang paupuin. Sila mismo ang bigyan ng pagkakataon na mag-draft ng mga policies iyong palagay nila kailangan nila. Hindi iyong tayo ang magdidikta sa kanila," she said.
The vice president also said IP education plays a crucial role in involving the IPs, thus, they aim to strengthen their support to the Pamulaan Center for Indigenous People.
"Kailangan talaga siyang tulungan na malaki, dahil sabi mo nga na siya ang college na parang devoted talaga sa IP education. Tingin natin iyong crucial sa pagangat sa IP communities, more than iyong paunti-unting tulong," she said adding that she advocates for IP empowerment.
Roberto Abadian, co-chairperson and founder of Pamulaan said that the commitment of the vice president to uphold IP education is a welcome move.
Abadian added that Robredo's presence in the event is a big boost since it was a way of showing commitment to curb poverty and on how she would help them solve problems of IPs.
"Yung kasi pinu-push kasi ni Leni itong programa para sa mga nasa laylayan and how education can be a solution," he said.
Abadian added that the amendment of the IP laws is also a good move, however, he prefers "harmonizing" laws which involves IPs because in his observation, many existing laws in different agencies which involves IPs are in conflict.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on May 16, 2017.
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