Appointment of indigenous peoples focal person in city eyed

BAGUIO CITY  – The City Council, during last Monday’s regular session, requested the City Planning and Development Office and the City Government Performance and Governance Audit Team pursuant to Resolution No. 212, series of 2019, to consider the appointment of an indigenous peoples focal person to be assigned at the aforesaid office to look into indigenous peoples concerns vis-à-vis the development policies of the city.

In a resolution, city legislators stated the designation of a focal person for indigenous peoples is necessary to check, validate or render recommendations on proposed development activities for compliance, monitoring and guidance on future decisions of city officials so that issues and concerns on the protection of indigenous peoples rights will be guaranteed.

The council pointed out the need to ensure that development endeavors and initiatives in the city over duly recognized ancestral lands will be aligned with approved city development plans and the indigenous social and cultural plans, programs and projects which are likewise in the sphere of defined development policies.

Section 22, Article 2 of the 1987 Constitution states that the State recognizes and promotes the rights of indigenous peoples within the framework of national unity and development.

According to the council, to operationalize the aforesaid constitutional provision, Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997 was enacted mandating, among others, that the State shall protect the rights of indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples to their ancestral domains to ensure their economic, social and cultural well being.

Further, the State shall institute and establish the necessary mechanisms to enforce and guarantee the realization of the aforesaid rights, taking into consideration their customs, traditions, values, beliefs, their rights to their ancestral domain.

Likewise, the council disclosed that the comprehensive land use plan of the city for the period 2013-2023 provided for the adoption of a policy that ancestral lands shall be respected and shall be accorded the same rights and responsibilities appurtenant to private titles, all registered owners of legitimate ancestral domain or land titles shall formulate their respective sustainable development protection and management plans pursuant to the provisions of RA 8371 and other pertinent laws and regulations and shall be adopted to form part of the said plan.

At present, Baguio City hosts a certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT) of Ibalois and Kankanaeys at Happy Hallow barangay with an area of 146.4182 hectares, along with other ancestral lands covered with certificate of ancestral land titles (CALTs) issued and registered in accordance with RA 8371.

The council claimed it is a city policy as enunciated in the 15-point collective agenda of the present administration that included the resolution of indigenous peoples land issues and other land issues in the city for the protection and preservation of the heritage of the indigenous peoples of the city. –  Dexter A. See