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PIA Press Release

IPs aware of their rights to ancestral lands, domains

BAGUIO CITY (28 September) -- Indigenous peoples have generally high level of awareness on their rights to ancestral domains and lands especially the tribal leaders and women, with the youth the least aware.

This was one of the findings of a pilot study on the diagnosis on IP rights to ancestral domains in the Philippines conducted in 2005 under the framework of Metagora project.

The study covered a total of 750 households of the Bago tribe in Sugpon, Ilocos Sur, the Kankanaey in Kibungan Benguet and the Bungkalut tribe in Aurora, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and region III.

The activity aimed to gather data in the four major areas of the study namely perceptions and awareness on their rights to ancestral domains and ancestral lands, violations/realizations of rights to their AD and ancestral lands,,measures provided by government to enhance or facilitate their enjoyment of their rights and mechanisms availed by IPs to address their grievances due to violations of their rights.

The project made use of qualitative approach using the survey design undertaken by the National Statistics and Coordinating Board(NSCB) and a qualitative approach thru focus group discussions and local consultations done by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

Almost all the respondents have correct perceptions on the right to develop lands and natural resources and right to clean and safe water with the 250 household Kankanaey respondents registering 100%. They are least aware on their right in case of displacement.

The respondents noted violations of rights to ancestral domain and land like illegal entry, encroachment, pollution problems, among others committed mostly by private individuals. Interestingly, council of elders/tribemates were also mentioned as violators. In both the FGD and consultation, private mining companies were mentioned as involved in violation of rights.

There is also recognition among the IPs of government efforts in fulfilling rights to ancestral domain and land with the Bago tribe registering a high 93.25% while the Kankanaey had only 54.5%. In the local consultations, respondents mentioned about a memorandum of agreement between the Land Registration Authority and the National Commission on Indigenous peoples to register certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles for free.

IPs still rely on and respect customary laws and practices in solving their land dispute. Around 52% of the respondents said customary laws are the main instruments in solving majority of land conflicts with amicable settlement coming in second.

Barangay councils and council of elders serve as the main venue for discussion of conflicts and land problems. For both the Bago and Kankanaey tribes, they prefer to resolve conflicts in barangay councils/ lupons while the Bungkalots do it foremost with council of elders/tribal leaders.

The study concluded that government plays an important role in capacitating and influencing other government stakeholders to respect, protect and fulfill IP rights to ancestral domain and land. Moreover, there are potentials for further convergence and collaboration among stakeholders in policy and program measures for promoting and protecting IP rights.

According to Benjie Navarro, head of the NSCB in the Cordillera Region, research is perception based and this may be true only to the tribes under study but not for the whole region or IPs.

The results of the study, however, can provide a benchmark on the important aspects of the level of awareness, knowledge and practices of IP on their ancestral lands and domains towards enhancing program and policy measures for effective governance of IPs, Navarro said.

It can put in perspective current efforts of putting the IPs in the center of development agenda particularly in ascertaining that their rights are protected and fulfilled.

The Metagora is a 24-month pilot project "Measuring Democracy, Human Rights and Governance" under the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights, implemented by the OECD-Paris 21 with funding from the European Commission.

With the CHR and NSCB as the partner implementing organization, the study was conducted with the National Statistics Office, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Statistical Research and Training Center, ESCRAsia, PhilRIGHT and the academe as strategic partners. (PIA) [top]

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