BAGUIO CITY – The Regional Development Council (RDC) Committee on Indigenous Peoples’ Concerns (CIPC) welcomed its new members for the period 2019 to 2022 on August 28 who will discuss development matters as it relates to the Indigenous Peoples of the Cordillera and the emerging culture and arts sector. The committee confirmed NCIP-CAR Regional Director Roland Calde as its chairman, with RDC Private Sector Representative Manuel Ano of the Igorot Global Organization as the co-chair. DOLE Regional Director Exequiel Guzman was elected as the committee’s vice-chair.

The committee decided to expand and invite more members from the private sector through the RDC’s pool of Civil Society Organizations. CIPC will also extend invitations to the Police Regional Office Cordillera (PRO-COR), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), among others,  to better consolidate programs and policies concerning IPs in the Cordillera.

Unlike other regions having only four sectoral committees (Development Administration, Economic Development, Infrastructure Development, and Social Development), the Cordillera has six. The CIPC, along with the Watershed and Environmental Management Committee, are unique sectoral committees of the Cordillera RDC. This is in recognition of the region’s unique cultural and environmental situation.  compared to other regions.

Given that the majority of the Cordillera region population belong to various indigenous cultural communities, a committee focused on indigenous peoples helps ensure their concerns are addressed in accordance with the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997. “Our committee is intertwined with the functions of the different regional line agencies, environmental management, social welfare, education, etc.”, Calde said. “The committee is an avenue for convergence where agencies can consolidate their programs for indigenous peoples”, NEDA-CAR added.

Calde, as chair of the committee, emphasized the importance of culture and the committee’s role in regional development. He previously detailed the accomplishments of the committee during the 2019 State of the Region Address on August 13. He reported the increased support for culture-sensitive governance through the establishment of the local councils for culture and arts, the issuance of certificates of ancestral land titles, and the preparation of Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plans (ADSDPP), among others. Calde also encouraged the cultivation of the region’s creative economy given Baguio City’s declaration as a UNESCO Creative City for folk arts and crafts.

NEDA-CAR, as RDC Secretariat, pointed out that culture has become more and more of an important aspect of development with its inclusion in the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and the current administration’s 0+10 socio-economic agenda. Particularly in the Cordillera Regional Development Plan, the region aims to strengthen cultural integrity and identity through the establishment of the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera.