By KIMBERLIE OLMAYA NGABIT-QUITASOL
Posted by Bulatlat.com
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Benguet urges the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) to properly identify the indigenous peoples organizations (IPO) that would solely represent a community or ancestral domain in the Free Prior and Informed Consent Process (FPIC).
Benguet Vice Governor Crescencio Pacalso said clearer guidelines for the selection of IPOs would help in the conduct of the FPIC. He added that this would make the NCIP’s job easier because they would be talking to just one group instead of having to consult several organizations.
Pacalso suggested that existing council of elders in indigenous territories should be the sole representatives of communities. He said the decision of the council of elders would surely be based on the prevailing community sentiment.
“I believe that the council of elders will make wise decisions based on the position of the majority of community folk,” the vice governor added.
Pacalso explained that in every community there will always be more than one organization with opposing views. He also mentioned that in some cases the NCIP consults with families or clans. He particularly mentioned the case of Bokod where two consultations were conducted with two different groups and with different positions.
“The consultations yielded two different positions because the first group was against the mining exploration while the second group was in favor. Instances like this would be avoided if the NCIP identifies just one organization to represent the whole domain (community),” he stressed.
The vice governor said that a resolution has been passed in the Benguet provincial board asking the NCIP to create clear guidelines for the selection of IPOs to represent communities. The said resolution is still under study.
According to Republic Act 1703 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, Definition of Terms, FPIC is “Free and Prior Informed Consent – as used in this Act shall mean the consensus of all members of the ICCs/IPs to; be determined in accordance with their respective customary laws and practices, free from any external manipulation, interference and coercion, and obtained after fully disclosing the intent and scope of the activity, in a language and process understandable to the community.” Posted by (Bulatlat.com)