THE National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)-Davao Region has not recorded any coronavirus disease (Covid-19) transmission among the indigenous peoples (IP) community since the pandemic hit the region in March 2020.

NCIP-Davao Director Geroncio Aguio said in a virtual presser that their office had been monitoring different IP communities in the region amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Aguio said the far-flung communities had been "geographically advantageous" against the virus.

"Nagkataon lang na malayo sila sa urban area, where matindi ang spread ng Covid-19 virus (It so happen that their community is far from the urban area, where Covid-19 is widespread)," he said.

Recently, NCIP, together with Secretary Allen Capuyan, went to Talaingod, New Corella and Tagum City in the province of Davao del Norte, municipalities of Laak, New Bataan, Compostela and Monkayo in the province of Davao de Oro, and Paquibato and Marilog in Davao City to personally monitor the condition of the IPs while the region is placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

Days before the International Indigenous People's Day on August 9, Capuyan conducted visits to IP communities for his series of inter-agency Visitation to Indigenous Cultural Communities/ Indigenous Peoples (ICC/IPs).

During his visits, Capuyan also emphasized to the IPs the need to productively use ancestral domains in support of food security thrust of the local and the national governments to "address hunger" amidst the pandemic.

Aguio said the NCIP secretary even asked, in jest, the IP communities about their secret for maintaining zero Covid-19 cases within their communities.

Aside from the Covid-19 pandemic, NCIP is also assisting the Department of Education (DepEd) in its blended learning modality program in the far-flung communities.

They learned that some parents of the IP community are concerned with the module learning modality that DepEd will impose since not all of them can even read or have finished their studies.

Aguio said that according to their recent dialogue with DepEd, parents can send their students to their respective schools, as Deped allows face-to-face classroom setup in their community since they have zero Covid-19 cases, provided that minimum health protocols, including physical distancing, will be observed.

Meanwhile, NCIP has pre-determined 120 tribal communities to visit to deepen the discussion on IP rights as laid out in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (Ipra) of 1997 or Republic Act 8371, which aims to "Recognize, Protect and Promote the Rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPS) and for other Purposes."

"Ito'y pagbibigay assurance sa ating mga pamayanang tribo sa Mindanao na ang presensya ng gobyerno ay patuloy na ipinapakita natin kahit sa ano mang sitwasyon lalo na sa pandemya (This is to assure our tribal communities in Mindanao that the government's presence continues whatever the situation is, especially during this pandemic)," Capuyan said.

"The presence of government must be felt sa mga communities lalo na sa panahong ito at iyon ang pinaka-main reason, tayo ay bumaba (The presence of government must be felt in communities especially during this time and this is the main reason why we are coming down)," Capuyan added. (With reports from PIA)