The absence of counterpart fund from the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) for the delineation and preparation of the application of Ancestral Domain for Indigenous People (IP) in the northern barangays of Puerto Princesa caused the delay of the process.
This was the outcome of the Committee Hearing on Thursday of the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s (SP) Committee on Legal Matters chaired by City Councilor Atty. Nesario G. Awat.
The City Government allocated P500,000 as counterpart to the NCIP for the delineation survey and other preparation for the Ancestral Domain declaration in seven northern barangays of Puerto Princesa covering an estimated 110,000 hectares intenfed for Batak indigenous people.
However, NCIP provincial head, Engr. Roldan Parangue admitted that their office does not have available funds and they rely only to support from their higher office or from associations supportive of IP.
“Sa ngayon ay wala talagang budget. Nakadepende kami sa private agencies na nagbibigay at hinihingi namin ang kanilang suporta o kaya kung kailangan ay we will endorse it to our higher office,” Engr. Parangue explained.
The budget allocated by the city government is under Maintenance and Other Operating Expenditures (MOOE) and should be disbursed and utilized before the end of 2019, or else it will be reverted back to the General Fund of the city’s budget.
Atty. Awat suggested the NCIP to coordinate with IP leaders like John Mart Salunday and prepare a Program of Work (POW) to facilitate the release and utilization of the funds from the city coffers intended for the IP. This is for the purpose of maximizing the use of the funds to benefit the IP communities.
Three weeks earlier, Atty. Awat delivered a privillege speech during the SP session criticizing the lack of funds from NCIP to support the move of the IP to declare ancestral lands in the city.
Awat further expressed his dismay that the NCIP could have significantly help the needs of the IP should it have sufficient funds and resources.
Indigenous People Mandatory Representative (IPMR) and city council’s ex officio member Nestor Saavedra said that they will seek the support of Congressman Gil Acosta since NCIP has no funds for the purpose.
Atty. Awat said that the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) is a well-crafted law to help uplift the lives of the IP but its agency the NCIP lacks the resources to help the IPs.
“Kawawa talaga ang opisina nila sa NCIP. Parang hindi sila sakop ng gobyerno. Kaganda ganda ng batas na IPRA para matulungan ang mga katutubo pero ang NCIP ay walang budget,” Atty. Awat said.