TWO legitimate Indigenous People (IP) organizations of Cagayan de Oro City were barred from entering the 1st Indigenous Peoples Mindanao Cluster Convergence Summit on Monday, June 25, at the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines.
Lawyer Rey Raagas, legal counsel of the Unified Higanonon Tribal Council, Inc. and San Simon, Malanang, Bagocboc Tribal Council said more or less 60 members of these organizations were not allowed entry by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) even if they were accredited with the Presidential Adviser on IP Concerns.
"Imbis legitimate kini sila nga mga organizations from Cagayan de Oro, dili naman nuun pasudlon, kaay naa man officials sa NCIP nga nakasala sa ila (These are legitimate IP organizations from CDO, but they were not allowed to participate because there are NCIP officials who have wronged these lumads)," he said.
Raagas said these lumads were supposed to air several concerns on their ancestral domain, such as the establishment of a transmission line of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) on their land.
Instead of helping the lumad group, the NCIP endorsed another tribal council that they supposedly control to give way to further development on ancestral lands.
Another issue is the inaction of the NCIP to put an IP representative to both City Council and the Provincial Board.
Raagas said both lumad groups have endorsed their chosen representatives to sit at the legislative councils but the NCIP has refused to work on their requests because "they do not like the chosen leaders of the lumad communities".
He said the NCIP has also done nothing when the Provincial Board of Misamis Oriental abolished the IP representative in its council.
"It's against the national law to abolish it, they will be liable. Obviously, the NCIP has corrupt motive, ineptness, and unreasonable inaction to these legitimate IP organizations' requests," he added.
Raagas questioned the selection process of the IP convention, which he said, should include, not exclude, all legitimate IP groups.
"It's sad what has happened to NCIP, they should be the voice of our lumads, but they are the opposite, they are silencing the Indigenous Peoples," he added.
An NCIP personnel who requested anonymity said only those that are validated and recognized by the NCIP were allowed to participate in the event.
The media was also prohibited from covering the convention except for the government-run television network.
According to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the event was a gathering of representatives from various sectors of the public and private agencies, as well as civilian organizations that aims to promote awareness on the current situation of Indigenous Peoples (IP)/Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICP) nationwide.
Recognized IP invited by the local chief executives are also attending the summit for their responses and recommendations in improving the quality of life in their respective communities.