Group targets legislating for IP empowerment

May 6, 2013 10:25 pm 

MANILA, May 6 — 2013 poll hopeful Abante Katutubo Inc. party list group committed working for passage of bills that will promote socio-economic well-being of the country's indigenous peoples (IPs).

"We want to empower IPs," Abante's Hermenegildo Dumlao said during State-run PTV 4's 'Hatol ng Bayan' program for the 2013 mid-term polls.

He noted IPs need assistance as they continue leading marginalized lives yet have potential to help move the country forward.

RA 8371 (Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997) defines IPs as "a group of people or homogenous societies identified by self-ascription and ascription by others, who have continuously lived as organized community on communally bounded and defined territory, and who have, under claims of ownership since time immemorial, occupied, possessed and utilized such territories, sharing common bonds of language, customs, traditions and other distinctive cultural traits, or who have, through resistance to political, social and cultural inroads of colonization, non-indigenous religions and cultures, become historically differentiated from the majority of the Filipinos."

National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) estimated the Philippines' IP population at some 11.3 million people.

The country has 110 ethnolinguistic groups, NCIP continued.

Dumlao said among bills Abante targets filing are those that will increase IPs' access to education, skills training and livelihood.

"We must also provide roads and other infrastructure that will link tribal areas to education centers and markets so IPs can access these without much difficulty," he noted.

To help preserve IP culture and increase public understanding of this, Dumlao said centers focused on the matter must be established in State universities and colleges nationwide.

He said establishing the centers is in accordance with the 1987 Constitution's provision on preserving IP culture.

The Constitution's Art. XIV Sec. 17 provides that the State "shall recognize, respect, and protect the rights of indigenous cultural communities to preserve and develop their cultures, traditions, and institutions. It shall consider these rights in the formulation of national plans and policies."

Party list group and 2013 poll contender Buhay Hayaan Yumabong is supporting such bid to empower IPs nationwide.

IP empowerment is in line with Buhay's pro-life advocacy, noted former Manila mayor Lito Atienza who's this party list's candidate.

"Buhay's number one advocacy is to give importance to life from womb to tomb," he said during the program.

Among Buhay's accomplishments are extending assistance to retired Manila policemen and saving abandoned newborns, he noted.

Atienza said if Buhay wins in this year's elections, this group will push for laws that'll help promote life.

"We'll fight proposals promoting abortion," he said.

Buhay is also against euthanasia, divorce and same-sex marriage, he continued.

The masses' socio-economic amelioration is also the focus of Anakpawis party list group, another 2013 election contender.

Anakpawis' Rafael Mariano said poll victory this May will pave the way for the group to re-file its previous House bills.

"We'll continue pursuing that legislative agenda," he said during an earlier edition of the 'Hatol' program.

Mariano said among items in Anakpawis' agenda are land reform, private and public sector wage hikes, the fight against contractualization and support to agriculture.

"We're also for repeal of the oil deregulation law and Electric Power Industry Reform Act as well as removal of value-added tax," he added. (PNA)

FPV/LOR/CJT

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