MANILA, Philippines – A bill filed before the House of Representatives is seeking the creation of a department dedicated to take care of the concerns of the country's indigenous peoples (IPs).
House Bill 6543, whose main author is North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco, is seeking the creation of the Department of Indigenous Peoples.
Catamco said while the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) is performing the functions related to the formulation and implementation of policies, plans and programs to recognize protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples, "a department specifically created for such purpose can further strengthen such formulation and implementation."
"The creation of the DIP will be a significant breakthrough to guarantee the realization of these rights, taking into consideration their customs, traditions, values, beliefs, and rights to their ancestral domains," Catamco said.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, Jr., co-author of the measure, said the bill is in accordance with the 1987 Constitution, which declares that "the State recognizes and promotes the rights of ICCs within the framework of national unity and development."
The lawmakers said the proposed DIP shall promulgate the necessary rules and regulations governing the implementing of the provisions of RA 8371 (The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997), and pertinent laws.
The DIP shall also develop, administer and implement policies, plans and programs and projects for the economic, social and cultural development of ICCs/IPs.
The proposed department is also mandated to coordinate government and voluntary efforts in social welfare work to avoid duplication of responsibility in social services.
The bill also lists the following as the functions of the department:
- Perform quasi-judicial and allied functions, and settle conflict;
- Collect and maintain records and facilitate research relating to rights and cultural heritage of ICCs/IPs;
- Promote public awareness and insure proper dissemination of information on understanding of indigenous rights and cultural heritage;
- Implement relevant provisions of international treaties and agreements.