THROUGH the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997, many of us in the Cordillera came to know about terms such as CADTs and CALTs for ancestral domain land recognition which refers to Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles and Certificate of Ancestral Land Titles. CADTs according to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples of NCIP are issued to formally recognize the rights of possession and ownership of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) over their ancestral domains as identified and delineated in accordance with this law, while CALTs to formally recognize the rights of ICCs/IPs over their ancestral lands.
With the formulation of the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP), it mandates NCIP to promote a culture and rights-based approach to development for indigenous cultural communities in a manner by which the concerned ICCs/IPs shall likewise protect their ancestral domain.
There is also an IP Education and Advocacy Services that provides limited financial assistance to qualified ICCs/IPs students based on the criteria set forth by NCIP. This is aimed at providing meaningful scholarship to qualified/deserving IP students based on screening guidelines.
Considered as a mechanism of assisting the cultural communities preserve their cultural and historical heritage and at the same time evoking public awareness and respect for the IPs and their rights, NCIP provides support to culture bearers in the practice of their rituals and ceremonies whenever these are necessary. The performance of cultural manifestations as in rites, songs dances chants, and games, and the presentation of their native life ways, literature and arts, fabric and architectural designs, artifacts and instruments, in their original versions or in a manner in which they have been held through the years, without romanticism or simply aesthetic motivation, is essential to the IPs authentic flow of life and inherent world views at work. Stereotyping, false representation and commercialization of indigenous cultures are current fads that must be reckoned with and corrected. In here, time is of the essence.
In the context of laws that dates even before foreign colonization of the Philippines, the government respects the IP’s collectiveness as groups of peoples and at the same time, recognizes their rights as citizens of a bigger society of the Philippine Republic. The IPRA states that their rights are human rights too. ”The IP Human Rights Program, with full participation and consultation with ICCs/IPs, aims to contribute to the organizational outcome of the Commission. It seeks to promote the IPRA as an ICCs/IPs national framework of their human rights, to advocate ancestral domains as territories of peace and IPs self-determined development, human security and well-being”.
The IPRA mandates the NCIP to protect and promote the interest and well-being of the ICCs/IPs with due regard to their beliefs, customs, traditions and institutions. The same law likewise considers the NCIP as the primary government agency through which ICCs/IPs can seek government assistance and as the medium through which such assistance may be extended.
Further on customary laws, the IPRA or RA 8371 provides for the primacy of customary laws and practices in resolving disputes. The same law states that customary laws, traditions and practices of the ICCs/IPs of the land where the conflict arises shall be applied first with respect to property rights, claims and ownership, hereditary succession and settlement of land dispute. Accordingly, several administrative orders and guidelines of the NCIP also emphasize the importance and primacy of customary laws in resolving disputes involving ICCs/IPs.
It essential to undertake the documentation of customary laws not only for the sake of documentation and preservation, but in order to have a full understanding of these laws and practices, and to have ready and available resources in resolving disputes brought before the NCIP. Thus, considering the importance of customary laws, the NCIP as stated in its Citizens Charter is tasked to undertake the documentation of customary laws.