IP leaders demand “Piso Budget” for NCIP, slam record of IP rights violations

19 September 2021 – In light of the ongoing 2022 national budget deliberations, IP leaders from Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), KATRIBU, Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), and Bai Indigenous Women’s Network demand ‘piso budget’or the significant slashing of fund for NCIP, citing its record of IP rights violations as basis.

NCIP violates FPIC process

“NCIP was established due to the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997, where it is stated that it should be the primary government agency that should formulate and implement policies, plans and programs for the respect, development, and protection of indigenous cultural communities’ rights and welfare… NCIP clearly did not fulfill its mandate according to IPRA. Under the Duterte regime, manipulations and violations of the FPIC worsened with the implementation of its Build, Build, Build program,” stated Beverly Longid of KATRIBU and IPMSDL in a press conference held Sept. 18, 2021. Kakai Tolentino from BAI Indigenous Women’s Network seconded Longid’s statement and further called out the Duterte Build, Build, Build program for its FPIC violations.

The Build, Build, Build program is the current government’s grand infrastructure and development plan that partly targets ancestral lands. Earlier in his presidency, Duterte entered into onerous loan deals with China to fund the program’s flagship projects such as the Kaliwa Dam and the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project (CRPIP). Both projects were opposed by indigenous groups but were subsequently permitted by the NCIP. CRPIP was eventually halted following protests of IP groups.

However, Pan Pacific’s Gened Dam 1 project along the Apayao-Abulug river was recently awarded with a Certification Precondition upon the go-signal of NCIP-CAR Regional Director Marlon Bosantog. Affected Isnag communities had been registering anomalies in the project’s FPIC process, but NCIP still decided in the project proponent’s favor.

NCIP’s silence on IP human rights violations

CPA Chairperson Windel Bolinget meanwhile slammed NCIP for its mum response on the fascist attacks against IP leaders. In 2018, Bolinget and other IP leaders were included in the Department of Justice terrorist proscription list. Last year, Bolinget was charged with a trumped-up murder case filed by the Office of the Prosecutor of Tagum City, Davao del Norte. The case was later on dismissed. The state-perpetuated campaign to declare CPA and Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat as Persona- Non-Grata in indigenous communities are also aggressively pushing through with NCIP’s support.

Rep. Cullamat gained NCIP Chair Allen Capuyan’s ire in the Sept. 1 DSWD budget hearing after she questioned the commission’s involvement with NTF-ELCAC, the government’s counter-insurgency machinery responsible for the threats and harassments against dissenting individuals and groups. Capuyan serves as NTF-ELCAC’s Executive Director while Bosantog holds a spokesperson position.

“NCIP was established to protect indigenous peoples and yet it is at the forefront of red-tagging and terrorist labeling, just like what is being done to CPA and Rep. Cullamat… The NCIP should be proud that one of our representatives in congress is an indigenous woman from Mindanao,” Bolinget remarked.

IP leaders ended the press conference with a strong call for NCIP’s “piso budget” and NTF-ELCAC’s defunding. ###