HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH INTERNATIONAL (HRWI) AND THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES (NCIP) MEETING DIALOGUE
On 28 March, 2023, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) hosted a dialogue meeting with Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) at NCIP Central Office, Quezon City.
The purpose of the meeting is to discuss NCIP’s mandate to protect and uphold the rights of the Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) in the Philippines in view of reported alleged human rights abuses to ICCs/IPs in the country.
Representing the NCIP were Chairperson Allen A. Capuyan and NCIP Central Office Bureau Directors; while Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson, Asia Executive Director Elaine Pearson, and, Senior Philippines Researcher Carlos Conde represented HRW; representing the CHR was Mr. Ronnie Rosero. Also present, via Zoom, were NCIP Regional Directors & Provincial Officers.
The Chairperson welcomed the delegation and was appreciative of the opportunity to discuss NCIP’s efforts to advocate and monitor human rights violation among ICCs/IPs. As such, he highlighted the different programs, activities, and projects the agency is implementing.
During the discussions, the Chairperson highlighted the importance of operationalizing the Eleven (11) Building Blocks of Resilient, Responsive, and Relevant ICCs/IPs in Ancestral Domains; and strengthening Indigenous Political Structure to create a self-governing Indigenous Communities. He also reiterated that ICCs/IPs rights are always a top priority as he presented the annual accomplishments of NCIP spanning from 2019 to 2022 – including collaboration among relevant national government agencies; and, the development of regional plans to implement the NTF-ELCAC framework to protect ICCs/IPs from anti-government movements and mainstream ICCs/IPs.
Further during the dialogue, HRW and CHR asked on the human rights issues in relation to obtaining Free and Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC) for the projects of government agencies and private proponents and availability of safeguards to protect the ICCs/IPs during the FPIC process.
The Chairperson clarified that only the community elders and/or decision makers or through consensus building of the ICCs/IPs approve the FPIC and not NCIP.
“It is the IPs (Indigenous Peoples) who approves the project, the NCIP formalized the approval through the Commission En Banc after hearing all presentations on the processes and submission of reports.
The Chairperson also welcome NGOs and private groups as partners to help NCIP improve and enhance relationship & services with ICCs/IPs.
The Chairperson was also asked on his take on ‘red tagging’ against ICCs/IPs. He explained that such labelling is wrong because what government is doing is truth telling to protect ICCs/IPs from Communist Terrorist Groups (CTG) who have infiltrated & radicalized ICCs/IPs.
To cap the meeting, the Chairperson invited HRW and CHR representatives to be NCIP’s partners; HRW and CHR welcomed the gesture and committed to constantly coordinate with NCIP to ensure reinforced partnership to respect, recognize, promote, and protect the interest and well-being of ICCs/IPs in the country.
At the end of the dialogue, NCIP provided 3 Coffee Table Books, NCIP Annual Reports (2019, 2020 & 2021), NTF-ELCAC Annual Reports (2019 & 2020), 11 Building Block Posters and the Book on Unmasking the CPP-NPA-NDF Myth.