BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) ruled all activities related to the conduct of the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) process being undertaken by developers, local governments, indigenous peoples organizations (IPOs) and concerned stakeholders must be sanctioned by the agency to guarantee the proper conduct and monitoring of the said activities.
Lawyer Roland Calde, NCIP-CAR regional director, said once proposed development projects are subjected to the FPIC process, all related activities, such as information education campaign, must pass through the approval of the agency because the NCIP has jurisdiction over the said process.
“All FPIC related activities are within the jurisdiction of the agency once proponents have applied for the conduct of the FPIC process under the provisions of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act. We must make sure that every activity to be conducted in relation to the FPIC process should have the approval of the agency and that NCIP personnel will be present to oversee the conduct of the activity lined up for such purpose,” Calde stressed.
The NCIP-CAR official warned proponents of development projects to strictly adhere to the FPIC rules and regulations to ensure transparency and accountability in convincing the indigenous peoples and indigenous cultural communities to give their consent for the development projects intended to be done within their ancestral domain.
Under the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the IPRA, developers intending to exploit, develop and utilize the resources of the State that are within the jurisdiction of indigenous peoples ancestral domains and indigenous cultural communities must first secure the consent of the owners of the domain before pursuing their activities in the desired area.
He called on local officials, indigenous peoples organizations and concerned stakeholders not to unilaterally conduct FPIC related activities on their own because it might render their efforts futile if not done without the expressed consent of the NCIP and the presence of NCIP personnel.
He admitted there are some developers of resources which have already intruded into the ancestral domain of indigenous peoples in the different parts of the region thus the agency is doing its best to empower the affected indigenous peoples to be vigilant on the activities within their domain to protect their rights from being abused and intruded by unscrupulous developers.
The NCIP-CAR official warned enterprising developers who want to cut short the FPIC process that they should not take for granted the power of the indigenous peoples to withhold consent by insisting on intruding in ancestral domains because they will surely be denied of their intentions once they offend the domain owners whom they are supposed to seek consent.