The Cordillera Regional Development Council Executive Committee, during its meeting on September 28, endorsed three resolutions for the welfare of indigenous peoples (IPs) in CAR.
These resolutions push for: (1) the inclusion of more benefits for IP communities hosting energy generating facilities; (2) including lands covered by Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claims (CADCs) in the Housing Assistance Program for IPs of the NHA; and (3) supporting the reorganization and restructuring of the NCIP-CAR for a more effective delivery of services. These resolutions were passed by the RDC Executive Committee meeting during its September 28 meeting in Baguio City.
The first resolution urges the inclusion in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (RA 9136) of a provision that at least one percent of the gross sale or output of energy-generating facilities or energy resource developers be given directly as royalty to IPs who gave their consent to the energy-generating project. This is in line with the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (RA 8371) which ensures, among others, the right of the IPs and ICCs to benefit and share in the profits from the utilization of the natural resources found within their respective areas. At present, the EPIRA requires the provision of benefits to communities hosting energy-generating facility and/or energy resource developers where host community refers to the local government unit of the barangay, municipality, city or province where the energy resource and/or energy generating facility is physically located.
The second resolution endorses the inclusion of ancestral lands currently covered by Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claims in the implementation of the NHA Housing Assistance Program for IPs. Presently, guidelines for the implementation of the program provides that only IP communities with lands covered by a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) are entitled. The amendment of this guidelines will benefit over 40,000 IPs displaced by Typhoons Pepeng in 2009 and Lawin in 2016 , as well as households identified in the Local Shelter Plans of LGUs that are located in areas exposed to geographical and other hazards and needing urgent relocation. If the proposal is approved, they may now avail of housing assistance even if their lands are not titled.
The third resolution endorses the proposed restructuring of the NCIP-CAR which serves the country’s only region that is predominantly populated by IPs, with about 90 percent of lands considered ancestral domains. The proposed reorganization is expected to result to a more effective and accountable delivery of services by NCIP. The proposed reorganization is in accordance with the Administrative Procedures of the General Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (RA No. 10924). Section 83 of the said GAA provides that in the pursuit of institutional strengthening efforts, heads of agencies may propose (1) the creation, abolition, renaming, consolidation or merger of bureaus, offices and units within their coverage; or (2) creation, abolition, reclassification, conversion or transfer of existing positions form one unit to another. In either instance, the government shall not incur additional cost.
The resolutions, which emanated from the Committee on Indigenous Peoples Concerns of the Cordillera Regional Development Council as a part of the Committee’s continuing efforts to improve the plight of the IPs in the region, will be forwarded to Congress and the concerned agencies.