The center management office of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said ancestral domain issues remain to be the biggest struggle among indigenous peoples (IP) communities in Palawan.
Atty. Jesus Torres, focal person from the Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights Center (ESCR Center) of the CHR, told Palawan News Wednesday that during their conduct of virtual building activity from August 5 to 7, many of the 11 IP leaders still related issues concerning their ancestral lands.
The virtual activity was coordinated by the CHR Palawan Provincial Office at the Western Philippines University (WPU) on its campus in Puerto Princesa. The IP leaders are from the Batak, Tagbanua, and Pala’wan various municipalities under the Nagkakaisang Tribu ng Palawan (NATRIPAL).
“Sa mga naiparating nila sa atin, halos karamihan ng problem sa community nila ay sa ancestral domain at alam naman natin na ganito talaga ang problema ng mga katutubo pagdating sa kanilang community,” Torres said.
“Nandito tayo para sa mga legal advises nila. Siyempre ang mga problema na yan ay ilalapit natin sa NCIP na siya talagang nangangasiwa sa mga katutubo natin o sa mga local government ng kanilang bayan,” he added.
He said the issues range from control or security of tenure over their ancestral lands, access, long-overdue awarding, the prohibition of their traditional slash-and-burn farming activities, and land grabbing.
Torres added that the CHR is ready to work with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) or the local government units (LGUs) on programs that will help the IPs in Palawan against their continuing struggle.
“Bukas kami para sa mga LGU na makipagtulungan para maka-develop tayo ng mga programa para sa IP communities natin diyan sa Palawan,” he said.
The virtual building activity aims to monitor and report the human rights situation of the IP communities. Determine what their problems are in relation to the implementation of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).