II. Recent national policy and developments on indigenous peoples In recent years, the Philippine Government has made major policy reforms in order to address the serious problem of the lack of tenurial security among IPs and local communities. The Philippines has led the way in the SEA region as it had pioneered the use of long-term stewardship agreements as a tenurial instrument to recognize the resource management rights of IPs within forestlands in the early 1980s’. But perhaps the most radical policy reform with regards to Tenurial Security of Indigenous Peoples in the region was the enactment of the Indigenous People Rights Act (IPRA) by the Philippine Government in 1997. The
IPRA goes beyond the contract-based resource management agreements between the state and the community as it recognizes the “ownership” of the Indigenous Community over their traditional territories which include land, bodies of water and all other natural resources therein. Furthermore, the IPRA provides tenurial security to the community with issuance of an ownership Title (Certificate of Ancestral Domain/Land Title) to the concerned Indigenous clan or community. With the passage of IPRA in 1997, the law recognized the rights of Indigenous peoples over their ancestral domains and provided for a process of titling of lands through the issuance of Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADT). The law gave jurisdiction of all ancestral domain claims to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) including those previously awarded by the DENR and all future claims that shall be filed. The new law provided the basis for filing new claims which included the submission of a valid perimeter map, evidences and proofs, and the accomplishment of an Ancestral Domain Sustainable Protection Plan (ADSPP). All existing ancestral domain claims previously recognized through the issuance of CADCs are required to pass through a process of affirmation for titling. IPRA included "Self Delineation" as the guiding principle in the in the identification of AD claims. However, due to the lack of resources and skills in the NCIP, the Government has not been able to provide the necessary services to the IP sector to realize this mandate and issue the necessary titles. The new Arroyo administration through the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has committed to fully implement the IPRA and has promised to issue at least 100 domain titles by mid-2002. However, the current budgetary allocation for the NCIP and its ancestral domain management activities remain at a paltry .07% of the national budget. More ominously the situation is not expected to improve as the trend in budgetary allocation for Government services towards ancestral domain allocation including community resources management continues to decrease. 2 In its first 3 years of existence the NCIP was not able to issue a single CADT, rather it certified community consent for dozens of mining applications, an act which it had no legal power to effect under the IPRA. Initial findings of the Office of the President’s Performance Audit of the NCIP reveal that the agency is ill equipped, the staff poorly trained and lacking field experience or appropriate cultural sensitivity to handle land conflicts and issues of resource access affecting indigenous communities. 2 see IFAD poverty report 2001 De Vera and Zingapan
With a budget of P530 million for its national operations and a staffing pattern beleaguered by a lack of capacity and skills, the NCIP faces severe constraints in serving the aspirations of the indigenous peoples’ sector. Thus it is actively seeking the help of the private sector in particular members of the Civil Society who have had extensive experience in the field of Ancestral Domain Claims and Community Mapping. However, the Indigenous Peoples (IP) in the Philippines remain as the most marginalized sector of society. This status continues despite the tremendous inroads achieved by communities, partners and advocates through years of struggle. In 1997, as result vigilance and the sustained advocacy of the IP sector and its partners, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) was enacted. This provided venues and legal backbone for the recognition of the Traditional Rights of communities over their ancestral domain. In a nutshell, the IPRA provides for the recognition of the traditional rights of Indigenous Peoples over their ancestral domains through the issuance of Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADT). It recognizes the rights of ICC’s to define their development priorities through their own Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP) and exercise management and utilize the natural resources within their traditional territories. Ten years hence, only 41 Titles covering half a million hectares of land have been awarded to Indigenous Communities. To date, very limited development activities in support of the Ancestral Domain Ancestral Domain Management Plans have been implemented in the IPO areas. Problems in the implementation of the IPRA continue to fester and severely limit the capacity of Indigenous Communities to truly benefit from the mandate of IPRA. The inability of the Government to fully implement the IPRA in order to address the problems and concerns of the Indigenous Communities is rooted in conflicting policies, capacity gaps and a questionable commitment to empower Indigenous Communities. The urgency of the problem is underscored by overt encouragement on the part of Government of the entry of large-scale commercial investment into traditional lands to install extractive industries which include open-pit mining, palm oil plantations and industrial forest farms.