Lawmaker moves to review the Indigenous People’s Right Act

A lawmaker today to hasten the review and proposed amendments to
the Indigenous People’s Right Act of 1997 saying “it has not achieved
its objective to alleviate the welfare of the indigenous peoples in
the country.”

“Scarce natural resources located in lands owned by our indigenous
people by virtue of birthright and by law are being exploited by
private individuals and companies without any agreement with their
owners,” said Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat (Lone District, Ifugao),
author of House Bill 4563.

The bill seeks to amend Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples
Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA).

It calls for the creation of a Joint Oversight Congressional Committee
to monitor the implementation of the law.  The committee shall be
composed of five senators and five congressmen.

The bill provides that the President of the Senate and the Speaker of
the House of Representatives shall be ex-officio members and the
chairmen of the Senate Committee of Cultural Communities and the House
Committee on National Cultural Communities will co-chair the joint
oversight panel. Likewise, the Senate President and the Speaker shall
appoint the respective members of the committee.

The oversight panel shall also have the power to implement policy
changes, review the decisions as well as recommend disciplinary action
on the NCIP, which is supposed to be the first and last line of
defense acting in behalf of the indigenous peoples in the country.

Baguilat said the review on RA 8371 should also include reports that
the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) is in collusion
with individuals and other parties in taking advantage of the lack of
knowledge and benign nature of the indigenous peoples.

“Why are vast tracts of ancestral domain ending up in the hands of
the private sector and their original owners – the indigenous peoples
– uprooted from the lands they have possessed since time immemorial?”
Baguilat asked.

“What promised to be a shining beacon of hope for its beneficiaries
has been dimmed by the passage of time, the bureaucratic muddle and
the ineptness of those who have been tasked to oversee the
implementation of the IPRA,” the Baguilat said.

Baguilat, Chairman of the House Committee on National Cultural
Communities, has referred the bill to the Committee on Appropriations
for its appropriate comments relative to the funding provisions of the
measure before final committee endorsement to plenary.

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