Pursuant to the provisions of Article II Section 22, Article XIV Section 17 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution on the respect and protection of the rights of the Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs), as well as Section 2 (b) and Section 7 (a) and (e) of the Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA), the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) recognizes and protects the right of the Indigenous Peoples over their Ancestral Domains in El Nido, Palawan.
NCIP-MIMAROPA received complaints from the Tagbanua Tandulanen ICCs/IPs in relation to the activities of TKPI in El Nido, Palawan involving the subdividing and selling of lands being claimed by the Tagbanua Tandulanen as their Ancestral Domain. A verification of documents also showed that TKPI has not secured a Certification Precondition (CP) for the Lio Tourism Estate and Lio Airport located in Villa Libertad and Pasadeña, El Nido, Palawan, as required by Section 59 of Republic Act No. 8371 which states that:
SECTION 59. Certification Precondition. — All departments and other governmental agencies shall henceforth be strictly enjoined from issuing, renewing, or granting any concession, license or lease, or entering into any production-sharing agreement, without prior certification from the NCIP that the area affected does not overlap with any ancestral domain. Such certification shall only be issued after a field-based investigation is conducted by the Ancestral Domains Office of the area concerned: Provided, That no certification shall be issued by the NCIP without the free and prior informed and written consent of ICCs/IPs concerned: Provided, further, that no department, government agency or government-owned or -controlled corporation may issue new concession, license, lease, or production sharing agreement while there is a pending application for a CADT: Provided, finally, that the ICCs/IPs shall have the right to stop or suspend, in accordance with this Act, any project that has not satisfied the requirement of this consultation process.
NCIP MIMAROPA has requested TKPI for voluntary compliance with the requirements of RA No. 8371. However, despite numerous correspondence and discussions, TKPI refused to comply.
TKPI further stated that Lio Tourism Project was issued a Certificate of Non-Overlap (CNO) back in 2013. Upon validation however, said CNO covers only a portion of 24.5 hectares out of the approximately 325 hectares where the Lio Tourism Project is located. NCIP has continuously reminded TKPI that a CNO carries an undertaking that in the event there is a claim or an overlap with an AD, TKPI will undergo the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process. Despite the issuance of a Show Cause Order on all projects of TKPI in El Nido, Palawan, TKPI has maintained its hard stance.
For failure/refusal of TKPI to abide by the provisions of R.A. No. 8371, NCIP MIMAROPA Regional Director Marie Grace T. Pascua, CESO III, issued a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) on TKPI’s projects located at Barangays Villa Libertad and Pasadeña. The CDO was received by TKPI on 14 March 2022 yet they refused to voluntarily submit to the said order. On 15 March 2022, TKPI submitted documents required under the FPIC guidelines.
The CDO implementation was originally scheduled on 23 April 2022 but was deferred to give way to then ongoing National Tourism Congress hosted in the country.
After numerous discussions and mediations between the community and TKPI, inter-agency consultations, as well as taking into consideration the welfare of the workers and communities to be affected by the impact of possible closure of establishments, the CDO was implemented on 05 May 2022 at around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The CDO suspends all selling, transferring and subdividing lots, advertising for sale of lots, and constructing new structures located within the covered area. Above activities are temporarily prohibited in order to safeguard the rights of the IPs to their Ancestral Domain, during the period of verification conducted by the NCIP. The Lio Airport, hotels, and other establishments shall continue to operate.
During the effectivity of this CDO, NCIP will conduct the Field-Based Investigation (FBI) and Social Preparation to validate all the claims of the IPs and eventually settle issues surrounding the CADT Application.
TKPI is a member of Ten Knots Group currently owned by Ayala Land, Inc., engaged in tourism and real estate activities in El Nido, Palawan. Tagbanua Tandulanen is one of the nine (9) IP groups in Palawan who filed a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) application no. R04-PAL-0132-AD covering 250,000 hectares, including ancestral waters located across eleven (11) barangays in El Nido – Villa Libertad, Bucana, New Ibajay, Sibaltan, Pasadeña, Tineguiban, San Fernando, Barutuan, Mabini, Villa Paz, and Manlag.
NCIP and affected ICCs/IPs expect that TKPI will honor the CDO.