‘Time for the Lumad to get fair share of Bukidnon’s bounty’ - New IP rep
MALAYBALAY CITY (BukidnonNews.Net/22 January 2023) In a tone of a mix of assertion and appeal, the new indigenous peoples mandatory representative to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has defined a platform of “emancipation from injustices against the IPs” in an interview with Kaglambaga Radio Program after he was selected by other IP representatives in November 2022.
Datu Bagani Atty. Arbie S. Llesis, the new SP IPMR who took his oath on January 17,2023 (see related story) told the radio program aired over Bukidnon State University’s DXBU 104.5 FM about his “father” and “mother” plans intended to ensure self governance among the IPs, “save them from oppression, neglect and injustice”, and for equality and peace. Among others, the 34-year old IP leader said during the December 9, 2022 interview, that they intend to set up a Bangsa Lumad Legal Center and a Bangsa Lumad political party by 2025 to ensure the aspirations by the end of his term.
Llesis also vowed to file ordinances and resolutions for the local government units to allot a bigger percentage of their budget to the IPs.
”If the Lumads claim to own the lands in Bukidnon, they should have a (fair) share of the bounty,” he said.
His plans to assert the rights of the IPs, he said, do not intend to displace others. He said this is just to appeal for the just share of the IPs and do not intend to render others bankrupt, adding “we are only after the commensurate share of our resources”.
”Let’s pray it will be realized, justice and equality equals peace,” he said.
Llesis, clarified that he is an advocate of consultative and participatory governance, and consensus and unity among the tribes. He assured that he is also espousing for unity for all, noting the two types of Bukidnon natives, those born with Bukidnon blood and those who were born in Bukidnon.
He clarified that he only intends to claim what the law affords the IPs. He said he is bent on the proper implementation of Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997.
Royalty or share for IP
The law, he said, provides that for all development projects inside the ancestral domain, there has to be consent from the IPs. He said part of the consent-seeking process is an assessment of impact on the environment and culture. He added that from there, negotiation can be done to determine the sharing scheme.
He said in all economic projects, the community is entitled to 1% share of the gross income. RA 8371 provides for the protection and promotion of the interest of the indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peopIe’s especially the 1% of the gross production or output as IP royalty or share.
Atty Llesis is pushing for an inventory of all existing corporations operating in the province.
”Are they complying with these provisions of the law? If not, we can open negotiations,” he added.
He cited that once upon a time the IPs owned the whole of Bukidnon and when the settlers first came to Bukidnon, the Lumad accommodated them in their lands.
”It’s time to return the favor. Now that the Lumads are at a state of disadvantage, it is your time to help uplift the IPs from their situation,” he added.
He cited the alleged disconnect of the current disadvantaged situation of the IPs, despite them comprising 60 percent of the population and owning 60 percent of the land (through ancestral domain).
Issue of space
”The issue here is space. If indeed Bukidnon is our home, then it is just right for us to use a good room inside the house, not just in the back near the pig pen or chicken koop,” he said. He cited that when the IPs hold rituals, they allot offerings even to elements they could not see.
He said the Lumads need to have a good share of the bounty from the start of projects and not just be left to gather the leftovers.
He acknowledged that realizing the vision will not be easy.
He said there must be a system or mechanism that the IPs can go to in order for them to address issues of development such as land grabbing. He said sometimes they will be dribbled by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines back to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
He cited a problem of implementation of Republic Act 8371.
”IPRA has been implemented for 25 years but the impact is not felt on the ground,” he said.
He cited that still a lot of applications for Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles and Claims have not been processed or granted.
He also cited that hundreds of development projects are introduced in the ancestral domain of the IPs.
But he said the IPs are excluded in the distribution of wealth.
”The IPs are invited only in the opening to do the ritual and given only tokens like chickens,” he added.
He said the legal center, considered as the father plan, will help address legal issues and give justice to the IPs who are the owners of the resources.
Atty Llesis also described as the mother plan the intent to set up a political party for the tribes for their self and participatory governance. He said they intend to organize in the 20 towns and two cities and register the party before the Commission on Elections. He cited that organizing can be done in the first six to eight months, documentation in the ninth to tenth and submission of application to Comelec by November to December 2023.
But he noted that he is only a representative of the IPs and the vision should be shared by the different councils of elders and other stakeholders.
If realized, he said, it will be the first time in the province that a political party has been set up by the IPs.
He cited that the “father” and “mother” plans are expected to bear more plans like the organization of the IP professionals, youth, senior citizens, business, farmers, among others to energize and synergize the (IP) population.
”There will be no successful IP struggle without participation (of the different sectors),” he added.
More IP share in LGU budget
He said eventually there will be an identification of barangays and towns where there is solid or dominant IP population.
Another specific plan, which he outlined during his radio guesting, was the intent to create a general plan in the provincial level, which could be customized and adopted in the local and city level.
He admitted, however, that since the budget for the LGUs have been passed for 2023, they will just pursue “hangyo-hangyo” (appeal for negotiation). He said he intend to negotiate for a share of the IPs in the budget for the youth, gender and development, senior citizens, among others.
He noted that some LGUs have bigger budgets for ballpens and office supplies than for the IPs.
”We pray that our political leaders will help us in this. We ask the governor, the vice governor, board members, down to the mayors to help the Lumad,” he added.
Powers, duties of IPMR
The authority of the IPMR emanates from the community through the indigenous political structure, according to NCIP Administrative Order No. 03, S. 2018 or the Revised National Guidelines for the Mandatory Representation of Indigenous Peoples in Local Legislative Councils and Policy Making Bodies. As a regular member of the local legislative councils and policy making bodies, it is the primary duty of the IPMR to carry out "at all times the collective interests and aspirations of the community".
Aside from sponsoring ordinances and resolutions and conduct committee hearings that will promote and protect the well-being and interests of his or her community, the IPMR should ensure the inclusion to the LGU annual budget the implementation of programs and projects relevant to the community.
Further, the IPMR should formulate the IP agenda with the community and conduct regular meetings with IP elders/leaders or the entire community. The IPMR should also facilitate provisions for financial support for the implementation of the IP agenda, to include delineation and titling of ancestral domains, indigenous political structure documentation, formulation and implementation of Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP) identified programs and projects, selection of IPMR, community-based information and education campaign on IPRA, convening of the community for agenda formulation, and periodic reporting and assessment on the IPMR’s performance.
The IPMR should closely coordinate and collaborate with the NCIP on implementation of projects and programs, support the conduct of IP census within his or her area of responsibility during the first year of his or her term, and to perform such other powers and functions as the community may deem appropriate. (BukidnonNews.Net)
IN PHOTO: Atty. Arbie S. Llesis (seated) attends the thanksgiving ritual held by the Bukidnon Daraghuyan for the 25th anniversary of RA 8713 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) Law of 1997. Bae Inatlawan Adelina Docenos led the ritual from the Daraghuyan Heritage Center's ritual area in Inhandig, Dalwangan, Malaybalay City on October 31, 2022 BukidnonNews.Net photo