Abolish NCIP – Cordillera IPs

A protester holds up a sign accusing the NCIP of treason during a picket of the agency's Cordillera region office. (photo by Aldwin Quitasol, InterAksyon)

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — An alliance of indigenous people’s organizations in the Cordillera region is not satisfied with the P1,000 budget granted by the House of Representatives to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and wants the agency abolished altogether.

On Tuesday, on the motion of Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, 119 lawmakers voted to approve the measly allocation for the NCIP. On the same day, the chamber did the same to the Commission on Human Rights.

Zarate accused the NCIP of failing to fulfill its mandate to protect the country’s indigenous peoples.

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance agreed, saying the agency has served as a “tool for the further oppression” of indigenous peoples across the country, suppressing their right to self-determination and helping institutionalize the grabbing of ancestral lands by mining and other extractive industries destructive projects.

Among others, CPA said the NCIP often subverted the free prior and informed consent provision of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act to facilitate the entry of extractive industries into ancestral lands.

The agency also failed to act on the killing and other human rights violations committed against IP leaders and community members, especially those fighting to protect their lands and their rights.

“Not once did the NCIP make a stand in defense of indigenous human rights defenders” nor against the militarization that invariably preceded the entry of mining and other destructive industries, the CPA said.

Because of this, it said the NCIP should be held equally accountable for these atrocities against indigenous people.

The NCIP’s failure to fulfill its mandate, said the CPA, has fueled calls through the years not only to scrap the agency but the IPRA as well.