Oct 242014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/06/07MANILA1995.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA1995
2007-06-15 08:23
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO6205
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1995/01 1660823
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 150823Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6972
INFO RUEHZS/ASEAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 001995

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE PASS USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SCUL RP
SUBJECT: PROTECTING INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND LANDS IN THE PHILIPPINES

¶1. Summary: Since 1997, the Philippines has explicitly sought to
protect and enhance the rights of its indigenous peoples, including
“ancestral domains” and self-governance. Special legislation and an
oversight commission address key concerns, which should be of
increasing relevance in the wake of an eventual peace accord between
the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a
group that claims its own right to ancestral domain and
self-governance for the Bangsamoro people of Mindanao and the Sulu
Archipelago. Despite some progress, much work remains. The USG has
numerous programs already in place to help various indigenous groups
assert and protect their rights, and will continue to assist the
Philippine government in these important endeavors whenever
possible. End Summary

——————–
LANDMARK LEGISLATION
——————–

¶2. On October 29, 1997, the Philippine Congress approved Republic
Act No. 8371, entitled “The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997,”
which in essence fleshed out in practical terms out several
provisions of the 1987 Constitution. The Act declared that, within
the framework of Philippine national unity and development, the
Philippines would respect and protect indigenous people’s (IP)
rights to “ancestral domains” in order to ensure economic, social,
and cultural well-being and preserve and develop their cultures,
traditions, and institutioQ The Act prescribed four specific
entitlements of thQP: ancestral domains; self-governance and
empowerment; social justice and human rights; and, cultural
integrity. The Act also established the National Commission on
Indigenous Peoples — a government agency — to implement the
legislation.

—————————
WHO ARE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES?
—————————

¶3. The term “indigenous peoples” refers to the more than 12 million
descendants of the original inhabitants of the Philippines, who in
many cases have retained their own customs, traditions, and ways of
life. These original inhabitants created communities that had all
the attributes of independent states — people, territory,
government, and sovereignty. Currently, there are 110 recognized,
distinct IP, each with its own unique language and customs. They
include such groups as the Ifugao in Northern Luzon, the Ati in the
Visayas, and the Subanen and Higaonon tribes of Mindanao. During
the colonial era, U.S. administrators created the “Bureau of
Non-Christian Tribes” under the Department of Interior. The groups
later became known as “cultural minorities,” or “tribal Filipinos.”

———————————————
THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
———————————————

¶4. The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has
responsibility for formulating and implementing the Government’s
policies and programs to “recognize, promote, and protect” the
rights and well-being of IP, including recognition of their
ancestral domains and rights thereto. Its mandate explicitly
excludes the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), although
some groups in the ARMM — notably, non-Muslim “lumads” —
technically would qualify for IP status. NCIP officials are now
seeking Presidential authority to expand its role in the ARMM.

———————-
COMMISSION’S STRUCTURE
———————-

¶5. The President appoints the NCIP Chairperson and six
Commissioners, who must be members of a recognized IP group
representing specified areas of the country – Region I
(Cordilleras); Region II (the rest of Luzon); island groups of
Mindoro, Palawan, Romblon, Panay, and the rest of the Visayas;
Northern and Western Mindanao; Southern and Eastern Mindanao; and,
Central Mindanao. The Act specifies that at least two Commissioners
must be women. The Commissioners serve for one three-year term,
subject to reappointment for one additional term. The Commission’s
seven offices cover: Ancestral Domains; Policy, Planning, and
Research; Education, Culture, and Health; Socio-Economic Services
and Special Concerns; Empowerment and Human Rights; Administration;
and, Legal Affairs. An Executive Director, also appointed by the
President of the Philippines, handles the NCIP’s daily management.

¶6. The Commission’s main office is located in Quezon City in Metro
Manila, and there are 12 regional offices and 66 provincial service
offices. The Commission currently has a staff of approximately
1,500 employeeQd a budget of 487 million pesos (USDQ5
million). The NCIP has undertaken major programs, such as cultural
mapping of IP communities, surveying and delineating ancestral

MANILA 00001995 002 OF 003

domains, and issuing Certificates of Ancestral Domain Title and
Certificates of Ancestral Land Title.

——————————–
CORE FUNCTION: ANCESTRAL DOMAINS
——————————–

¶7. Ancestral domains can consist of lands, inland waters, coastal
areas, and/or natural resources occupied or possessed by IP,
communally or individually. The Ancestral Domains Office registers
all claims to ancestral lands and tries to ensure the recognition
and legal titling of the ancestral domain claims. Additionally, the
Office develops sustainable development protection plans to help
protect the culture, resources, and rights of IP and to provide a
“roadmap” to ensure IP groups’ continued existence and recognition.

¶8. As of April 13, 2007, the Ancestral Domains Office had
registered 57 ancestral domain titles and 172 ancestral land titles
involving 1.121 million hectares (2,768,870 acres). It has
completed surveys on another 1.048 million hectares, with surveys
still ongoing for more than 890,000 additional hectares. It is also
examining claims to more than 3.3 million hectares, according to its
executive director.

———————
INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT
———————

¶9. The United Nations Development Program provides technical
assistance to the NCIP in the formulation of ancestral domain
sustainable development and protection plans. Separately, the
Embassy of Japan, through a contribution by the Japan Social
Development Fund to the World Bank’s Agrarian Reform Communities
Development Project, has provided financial assistance in five
geographic areas — Batanes Island, Tiwi Albay, Moncoayo, Davao
City, and Davao Del Norte — aimed at constructing bridges,
farm-to-market roads, tribal halls, and water systems, as well as at
developing livelihood programs for women. The Embassies of Canada
and New Zealand have also shown interest in contributing to the
Commission’s work.

¶10. The USG, through USAID, is working to support IP groups in their
efforts to take ownership and manage their ancestral lands in a
sustainable manner. Currently, USG assistance goes to the Agta and
Bugkalot communities in Northern Luzon and the Manobo and T’boli
communities in Mindanao for the formulation and implementation of
ancestral domain sustainable development and protection plans,
livelihood development, and resolution of conflicts over boundaries
and resource use. In Coron, Palawan Province, USAID assists the
Federation of Tagbanwa communities in conducting coastal resource
assessments and in establishing marine sanctuaries in their
ancestral waters.

¶11. USAID has also provided technical assistance to NCIP to develop
a joint protocol with the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources to harmonize jurisdiction and permitting issues in
protected areas. In addition, through the Philippine Tropical
Forest Conservation Foundation (a grant-making entity formed under
the U.S. Tropical Forest Conservation Act), the USG has provided
grants to the Kankana-eys and Ibalois in Benguet, Agtas in Bataan,
Palawanos in Palawan, and Higaonons and Matigsalogs in Mindanao to
support implementation of ancestral domain sustainable development
and protection plans.

————-
MIXED SUCCESS
————-

¶12. In addition to the lack of technical equipment and staff,
concerns to date regarding the pace of reforms center on the
inability of the Commission to conduct investigations and surveys in
ancestral lands occupied by armed combatants. A former staff member
of the Congressional Committee on National Cultural Communities
specifically cited Subanon in Mindanao as one of the areas in which
militant groups control significant parts of ancestral land. Other
difficulties have arisen in areas where logging or mining
corporations or the Department of Environmental and Natural
Resources have competing interests. Further, reports by human
rights groups and the media have commented on the lack of
enforcement of IP rights, sometimes intimating that government
agencies and/or military units are complicit in failing to protect
IP lands or rights.

——-
COMMENT
——-

¶13. The efforts by the Philippine government to preserve and
protect the culture, traditions, and lands of indigenous peoples

MANILA 00001995 003 OF 003

over the past decade have been welcome, if still inadequate.
Problems preventing the expeditious titling and recognition of
ancestral lands run from the mundane — people and equipment — to
the political — armed insurgents and terrorist groups and internal
government and business opposition. Embassy will continue to
monitor Philippine efforts help indigenous peoples and to designate
ancestral lands, particularly those areas that are now occupied by
armed insurgent groups, and will continue whenever possible to offer
practical USG assistance programs.

KENNEY

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.