Legarda: Determine IP Population, Protect Traditional Properties to Better Address Needs of IPs

May 19, 2014

In a bid to further promote equality among Filipinos regardless of ethnicity and to address concerns of indigenous peoples, Senator Loren Legarda today stressed the need to determine the population of citizens who are members of indigenous communities and to protect their cultural properties.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, presided over the hearing on Senate Bill Nos. 534, Ethnic Origin Act, and 669, Traditional Property Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

“It would help us determine the specific concerns of our IPs in various parts of the country if we actually know the exact population of Filipinos belonging in every indigenous cultural community (ICC). While the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has already included the ethnicity and ethno-linguistic variable in its national census, we need to come up with a definition of ethnicity that is agreeable to all sectors concerned,” she said.

In conducting the survey, PSA enumerators will be guided by National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) employees, who must be knowledgeable of the different ethno-linguistic groups of the Philippines, and must know the dialect and appropriate manner of talking or asking culturally-sensitive questions to members of ICCs.

Meanwhile, SBN 669 seeks to ensure that all cultural properties are registered to the proper ethno-linguistic group for protection of their intellectual property.

“While we want to promote the unique culture of our IPs, we do not want to subject their traditional properties to abuse because there have been reported incidences wherein their indigenous knowledge, dances and designs are being used by local and foreign entities without acknowledging the origin or giving proper compensation for the use of such properties. This further marginalizes our indigenous communities and deprives them not only of their identity but also of the benefits they should gain from their ingenuity and long-standing traditions,” the Senator explained.

“Through this measure we can strengthen the protection of the traditional cultural heritage of Filipino IPs and support traditional artists and artisans in their contributions to their respective ethnic cultures and national heritage by ensuring that their rights are safeguarded,” said Legarda.