MEMBERS of particular Filipino ethnic communities who are counting on the services of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) may expect better support from the national government under the possible leadership of presidential candidate Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson.
In keeping with his pledge to be of service to the vulnerable sectors of our society, Lacson said he would provide better funding for the NCIP and work towards a more effective implementation of our laws to protect the interests of indigenous peoples IP nationwide.
The presidential aspirant addressed the issue of internal displacement among several members of the IP community during a town hall forum in San Jose de Buenavista, Antique, where he and running mate Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III campaigned on Wednesday (April 20).
Lacson said municipal Mayor Elmer Untaran informed him that the main problem of their IP sector is their inability to secure land titles for their ancestral domains, thereby forcing them to relocate elsewhere.
Insofar as the veteran statesman is concerned, the NCIP is the national government agency tasked to help address these issues. The organization was created by virtue of Republic Act 8371 or ‘The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997.’ Unfortunately, it has been largely underfunded.
“Alam niyo sa national budget? Kakaunti ‘yung kanilang (NCIP) budget. Parang going through the motion… Parang gusto lang nila i-comply ‘yung batas. Dapat implementation… Ang susi po ng marami nating problema ay maayos na implementation,” according to Lacson.
“Kaya nagiging vulnerable sila IP sa recruitment ng mga NPA (New People’s Army) kasi kina-capitalize ‘yung kanilang mga misery, ‘yung kanilang malulungkot na istorya sa buhay… Palakasin po natin ‘yung ahensya na nangangasiwa sa indigenous peoples sa buong kapuluan,” he added.
Sotto, for his part, proposed to mandate the designation of an IP representative in every concerned local government unit to help address the concerns of the ethnic minority groups. They plan to enforce this policy through the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
“Meron talagang nakalagay doon sa batas na up to the fourth degree of consanguinity para ma-classify ka as IP at nandoon din sa batas na ipinasa namin na dapat mayroon kayong representasyon sa provincial government, hindi po ba?” according to the Senate President.
“‘Pag kami po ni Senator Lacson ang naupo, imamando po namin sa DILG na kailangan lahat ng local government may representative ang IP sa provincial government. ‘Yon po siguradong makakaasa kayo ipapatupad namin,” Sotto added.
Both Lacson and Sotto expressed that proper execution of relevant legislations is the best solution to the problems plaguing our IP communities not only in Antique, but other provinces in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, too.