Press Release
October 25, 2019

As the nation celebrates Indigenous People's Month
Angara, Revilla push for the creation of IP Resource Centers

Senators Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. are pushing for the establishment of resource centers to improve the delivery of essential services to indigenous peoples (IPs) and indigenous cultural communities (ICCs).

Angara and Revilla filed Senate Bill Nos. 706 and 443 respectively, to effectively address the plight of about 14 million to 17 million estimated ICCs and IPs who remain the most disadvantaged and poorest in the country.

The National Indigenous People's Month is celebrated every October as per Presidential Proclamation No. 1906, and series of events are being held to revel the cultural wealth and heritage bestowed upon the Filipinos.

To be known as "Resource Centers for Indigenous Peoples Act of 2019," the proposed measure, if enacted into law, would enable IPs to be recognized and have freedom to participate in development programs, projects and activities.

According to Angara, despite the enactment in 1997 of Republic Act 8371 or the "Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA)" and the various international aids given to them, IPs and ICCs remain the most poorest in the country.

He cited the 2010 Report on the State of the World by the United Nations which revealed that ICCs and IPs "make up one-third of the worlds poorest peoples, suffer disproportionately in areas like health, education and human rights and regularly face systemic discrimination and exclusion."

Of the millions of IPs in the country, 61 percent can be found in Mindanao while 33 percent are in Northern Luzon, Angara said. They are in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas that still lack basic services, he added.

"It is imperative to establish resource centers in all ICCs/IPs which are ethnographically located as determined by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). These centers shall enhance the delivery of basic, social, technical and legal services to the ICCs and IPs," the senator said.

Revilla, for his part, noted the lack of data on the distribution of IPs in the country, citing reports from the Indigenous People's International Policy Research and Education.

The report, released in September 2016, also observed that "credibility of the results and enumeration methodology have been questioned," he said.

"If we are to effectively address the plight of our indigenous peoples, it is imperative that we are backed with accurate information based on scientific and reliable data," Revilla said.

"This proposed measure seeks to establish resource centers for indigenous peoples so that we can gather precise information from the ground," he added.

While Angara's measure proposed centers in strategic places as determined by the NCIP, Revilla specifically proposed that the centers be established in state universities and colleges in strategic locations in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Both bills proposed that the center be composed of three major service areas:

  • The Statistical Service Area which is in charge of documentation and recognition of ICCs / IPs, their indigenous knowledge, systems and practices, political structures and customary laws through census, appraisal and baseline reports and libraries;

  • Human Development Index Service Area which addresses problems of ICCs /IPs and provide basic and necessary services through link-up with concerned government agencies such as training programs, scholarship grants, employment, livelihood and health services, and;

  • Domains Management Service Area which promotes participatory programs, projects and activities for ICCs / IPs to effectively deliver their responsibility to maintain ecological balance, restore denuded areas, observe laws and implement the Ancestral Domains Sustainable Development and Protections Plans and such other existing programs.

The two measures have been referred to the Committee on Cultural Communities chaired by Sen. Imee Marcos.

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