Sagada, Mountain Province—The Regional Development Council (RDC) participated in the Conference on the Protection and Utilization of Natural Resources in Ancestral Territories: The Case of Besao, Sagada and Sadanga in Mountain Province held here on July 30 and 31, 2014.
The conference was convened by the Movement for the Advancement of Inter-Tribal Unity and Development (MAITUD), an organization of elders in Mountain Province in partnership with DINTEG, an indigenous law center in the region. MAITUD and DINTEG are allied organizations of the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA), an IP activist group in the region.
Organizers said the conference was designed to arrive at a guiding framework on strenthening indigenous concepts and practices related to protecting and utilizing natural resources in indigenous territories, result of which would be shared to concerned government agencies.
In preparation for the conference, DINTEG accordingly facilitated a series of workshops, meetings and other activities in the three municipalities and affirmed its long-time observations such as the following:
- That the collective human development for indigenous peoples hinges on the interlinkages of people, land and natural resources;
- That cultural integrity and identity of the umili (people) is tied to the ancestral territory;
- That various boundary disputes arose in the course of setting political administrative boundaries which do not conform to ancestral territories identified with distinct clusters of ili (communities) within the political administrative boundaries;
- That in the case of Besao and Sagada, tribal boundaries had not been sharply demarcated although geophysical features had been commonly understood to serve as boundaries;
- That members of distinct clusters of ili share the natural resources in common boundaries; and
- That there is no such thing as municipal ancestral domain or municipal ancestral territory only municipal political administrative jurisdiction
One of the conference’s resolutions was for MAITUD expressing interest to join the Committee on Indigenous People’s Concerns (CIPC) of the RDC after RDC Vice Chair Milagros Rimando said that the RDC committee could be a venue for IP grievances to be discussed and acted upon. Rimando, who also heads the regional National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), was invited to the conference to share her government perspective.
by Mike Umaming, NEDA-CAR