KABAYAN, Benguet – A lecture-forum on campus journalism and awareness campaign on Cordillera autonomy was held at Kamora National High School on March 2, 2016. The activity was participated by 32high school students and their school paper advisers.

Atty. Delmar Cariño, legal officer of Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) and member of the Cordillera Autonomy Speakers’ Bureau, served as the resource speaker. This activity was supported by BENECO as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program.

Continuing free education assistance such as establishment of Technical Vocational school in Buguias, and IECs on Indigenous Peoples (IP) Rights, Journalism and Project Development, among others comprise the agency’s CSR projects, according to Atty. Cariño.

The IEC on IP Rights as provided by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and on regional autonomy was part of the campus journalism course for students.

Faster economic development and the strengthening of the IPRA Law through regional autonomy are benefits bannered by the Regional Development Council (RDC) – CAR that warrants the awareness and consultation of all Cordillera stakeholders.

The IPs or Indigenous Cultural Communities should know their basic rights such as the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and the right to first refusal as provided by IPRA, said Atty. Cariño.It will guide them in making informed decisions when consulted on development projects that would affect their communities such as infrastructure, hydro projects, among others, he added.

Atty. Cariño challenged theparticipants to tackle in their school paperboth local and regional issuesrelevant to the issues faced by IPs. He urged the studentsto use their school paper as an advocacy tool to increase awareness on these issues in the communities.

 

by Mark Allen Ponciano, SPCAR