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Sponsorship Speech: Resource Centers For Indigenous Peoples Act and An Act Declaring August 9 as National Indigenous Peoples Day

May 26, 2015

SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA
Sponsorship Speech
Committee Report No. 147
(Resource Centers For Indigenous Peoples Act)
Committee Report No. 141
(An Act Declaring August 9 as National Indigenous Peoples Day)
26 May 2015 | Senate Session Hall

Mr. President,

I have the honor to seek approval of two legislative measures, namely, Senate Bill No. 2209 under Committee Report No. 147 or the Resource Centers For Indigenous Peoples Act, and Committee Report No. 141 under House Bill No. 4420 or An Act Declaring August 9 as National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Despite concerted efforts exerted by the government, in partnership with various private organizations and financial support from international communities, still our indigenous peoples face many challenges in our society.

Basic services remain wanting in most geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas. Further, the reported human rights violations, displacement from ancestral domain and destruction of natural environment and cultural values are among serious concerns.

It is for these reasons that we continue to fight for policies and programs that would further give our IPs the respect, recognition and opportunities due them.

In coordination with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), this representation filed Senate Bill No. 2209 that will create Resource Centers for Indigenous Peoples/Indigenous Cultural Communities (IP/ICC).

The establishment of these resource centers in strategic places as determined by the NCIP would significantly enhance the delivery of essential services to their poverty-stricken domains and ensure protection of their rights with due regard to their customs, traditions, values and beliefs. This major endeavor reinforces the rights of indigenous peoples to actively participate in development programs and projects.

As intended, the IP Resource Centers shall serve as venue to promote participatory programs and projects for IPs, to effectively deliver their responsibilities under the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA), and to ensure implementation of their respective Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plans.

Further, these Centers shall help address problems of IPs and provide essential services such as employment, livelihood, enterprises, health services, scholarships and trainings.

Lastly, the IP Resource Centers shall embark on the documentation of indigenous knowledge, systems and practices, indigenous political structures, and customary laws which are vital in achieving cultural integrity.

Mr. President,

Your Committee on Cultural Communities is also submitting Committee Report No. 141 under House Bill No. 4420, which seeks to declare August 9 as National Indigenous Peoples Day.

This is in line with the UN General Assembly’s proclamation of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples every August 9.

The declaration of a National Indigenous Peoples Day and mandating its meaningful observance highlight the importance of the recognition, protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples through policies, programs and activities in the national and local level towards inclusive development and genuine IP empowerment.

Mr. President,

Our actions and inaction have placed lives of our IPs on the line, despoiled their lands, threatened their culture and deprived them of their rights. We are all aware of the depth and diversity of the challenges our IPs face. The question is: How sincerely and quickly will we address these issues that affect our IPs’ very survival?

The timely approval of these measures will attest to our commitment to champion the causes of our indigenous peoples and to engage them as active partners in the development process.

In view of the foregoing, I call on my colleagues in this august chamber for their support to these measures.

Thank you.