By Jennifer P. Gaitano
BUTUAN CITY — The Social Development Committee (SDC) of the Regional Development Council (RDC) has approved the creation of a special committee for Indigenous Peoples (IPs), which will directly address their issues and concerns.
Elvie Ato of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Caraga said the creation is in support to Republic Act 8371, known as the “Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997,” which declares that the state shall recognize and promote all the rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/IPs.
“The IPRA law specifies that the state shall take measures, with the participation of the ICCs/IPs concerned, to protect their rights and guarantee respect for their cultural integrity, and to ensure that members of the ICCs/IPs benefit on an equal footing from the rights and opportunities which national laws and regulations grant to other members of the population. The state shall also institute and establish the necessary mechanisms to enforce and guarantee the realization of these rights, taking into consideration their customs, traditions, values, beliefs, their rights to their ancestral domains,” said Ato.
Caraga region is home to five major ethnic tribes, namely the Manobo, Higa-onon, Mamanwa, Banwaon and Mandaya (Kamayo). PIA