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Lack of budget hounds titling of ancestral lands

THE NATIONAL Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) admitted difficulty in reaching its target of 7.7 million hectares to be distributed to indigenous communities on account of insufficient funds.

But NCIP chair Eugenio Insigne said the government is working to prioritize the budget to facilitate the distribution of ancestral lands to the rightful owners.

“Though we already have four million hectares out of the 7.7 million, we are still hoping to fully achieve the area for the indigenous people,” he said yesterday during the launching of Abante Tribung Makabansa (ATM) at Davao Convention Center.

The funding will cover the cost for titling the ancestral domains of the indigenous peoples and the formulation of the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plans (ADSDPP).

“Funding is what we need to ensure the success of development plans in terms of ancestral domain, P600 million is barely enough,” Insigne added.

The ATM claimed programs for the indigenous communities always take the backseat in terms of budget priority, as it pushed for a fair share of the funding for livelihood, education, and social services for the Lumads.

One of the suggestions the group cited to address the issue on ancestral domain is to create legislations strengthening the Indigenous Peoples Right Act and help resolve the ambiguity over the declared protected areas overlapping with ancestral lands and domains.

Insigne was quick to point out that properties within the ancestral domain could not be sold to private buyers. The government can annul the deal anytime at the expense of the buyer who might not even get his money back.

The group also wants to review policies on the so called exploitation of natural resources within the ancestral domain for the protection of the IP’s and their community through dialogues with the community leaders to create conservation efforts and further meet up with economists, social scientists and development practitioners to achieve sustainable development.

“We hope the government will give us a voice to chart the security of our ancestral land,” said Datu Ramon Bayaan, vice chair of the Mindanao Indigenous People for Peace and Development.

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