National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (Philippines)
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The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) is the agency of the national government of the Philippines that is responsible for protecting the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Philippines. The commission is composed of seven commissioners. It is attached to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
The commission began as the Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes created by the Insular Government during the American Colonial Period of the Philippines. It then became an independent agency called the Commission on National Integration (CNI). In 1972, then-president Ferdinand Marcos split CNI into the Southern Philippine Development Authority (SPDA) and the Presidential Assistance on National Minorities (PANAMIN). In 1984, Marcos created the Office of Muslim Affairs and Cultural Communities (OMACC) to assist both Muslim and non-Muslim minorities.
In January 1987, Pres. Cory Aquino's administration abolished the OMACC and through three Executive Orders created the Office for the Muslim Affairs (OMA), the Office for Northern Cultural Communities (ONCC), and the Office for Southern Cultural Communities (OSCC).
In 1997, the Republic Act 8371 or Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act of 1997 merged the latter two offices, the Office for Northern Cultural Communities and Office for Southern Cultural Communities into current commission.
In 2011, the commission's Oriental Mindoro office was criticized after it made a meeting with indigenous Mangyan communities in Mindoro, where the commission was pushing for the removal of the indigenous Mangyans from their ancestral domains for the establishment of a landfill proposed by the local government of Puerto Galera. The Mangyan walked out of the meeting, sparking outrage from the top officers of the commission. The news broke out and the national commission itself dropped all its social media accounts and even its own website, leaving only the websites of some branch offices operational. Since it was criticized by the public, the commission's Oriental Mindoro office has been in a limbo state, with no actual programs being done. The head commissioner continues to govern the commission, along with the provincial officer, despite the status quo, surging to further criticisms. Provincial officer of NCIP Oriental Mindoro Karen Ignacio and Puerto Galera mayor Hubbert Dolor retaliated by using the IPRA Law as defense for the establishment of the landfill. The IPRA Law is the same law that was made to protect the rights of indigenous peoples in 1997.
Gaps in the Law
Section 56 of the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act of 1997 or the IPRA Law states that “property rights within the ancestral domains already existing and/or vested upon effectivity of this Act, shall be recognized and respected.” This section is problematic as it means that any title before 1997 holds more weight than an ancestral claim. Scholars and pro-indigenous groups have criticized this section as it effectively destroys any ancestral land claim before 1997. Historians have pointed out that most indigenous groups in the Philippines have been in the archipelago prior to Spanish occupation in the 15th century. However, according to Section 56, since there is no proper documentation committed by the indigenous people prior to 1997, an indigenous group cannot claim any land that have been in non-inidgenous possession prior to 1997. This makes multi-national companies and local government units have the power to resist ancestral claims and use the IPRA Law itself to counter indigenous land claims, as testified in an ongoing Mangyan case since 2011, which evicted indigenous Mangyans from a claimed land they have been using for many years. In 2015, it was announced that the indigenous land shall be made into a sanitary landfill by the Puerto Galero local government unit, and that the Mangyans shall be relocated into a site near the landfill itself. All Mangyan-planted coconut trees on the landfill site shall be chopped down by the government and the local government unit shall compensate only 100 pesos (approximately 2 US dollars) each to the Mangyans.
- History of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines
- "About us: History". National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Region VI and VII. Retrieved 28 October 2015.