FOLLOWING the controversial support of Albay First District Representative Edcel Lagman for the deferment of the National Commission on Indigenous People’s (NCIP) budget during the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) proposed budget hearing earlier this month, an indigenous peoples group in Mindanao has created a legal resolution in hopes to be heard by the other members of the Congress.
Members of the Mindanao Indigenous People’s Council of Elder and Leaders (MIPCEL), alongside six Indigenous People’s (IP) commissioners in the country, have publicly announced that they created a legal resolution to avert the threats made by some members of the Philippine Congress.
MIPCEL’s legal resolution has been submitted for a committee hearing in Congress; however, they revealed that they are going to make another non-violent move in case the legislative body rejects their call to action.
“We do not know what would be the response. When the response is negative, we will make another move. It is not a violent move but a friendly move that we need to earn our manifestations [and] our testimonies,” Bae Norma D. Rivera, Provincial Chieftain of Davao del Sur, said during the two-day emergency conference at the Apo View Hotel in Davao City, August 25, 2023.
MIPCEL emergency conference discusses the budgetary situation and other important plans that aim to protect each member of the IP.
The chieftain alongside nine Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representatives (IPMRs) from various Mindanaon regions have also collectively agreed to the actions needed for their rights, particularly in achieving a fair battle.
“We will not be shouting along the road. We need to fight the battle in terms of black and white. We are requesting a dialogue with the president to sit down with us,” she said.
The Indigenous People’s Rights Acts of 1997 (IPRA Law), known as Republic Act (R.A) No. 8371, is a Philippine law that recognizes and promotes the welfare of IP in the country. It is also stated in Section 20 of Right to Self-Governance and Empowerment under the same law that the government shall establish means for the full development of IPs and provide the resources they need.
In light of the event that took place in Congress, Rivera has called out the discriminatory remarks made by Lagman and appealed to the higher officials of the current administration to hear NCIP’s present budget state.
“To the Speaker of the House and even to our president, vice president, chairman of the IPs and to the president of the Senate, please kindly hear our cry. We really need your help to support Indigenous Peoples throughout the country, not only in Mindanao,” she said.
“If you don't support us, the NCIP will remain operative in their programs [and] projects. We are calling and appealing your help by supporting and approving the budget of NCIP,” she added.
One of the major accusations that NCIP has been receiving is their alleged active participation in front organizations specifically in the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army- National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF). The continuous “red-tagging” has made it difficult for them to ask for this year's budget hike. DEF