(Photo courtesy of Atty. Jansen Jontila)

Teacher and lawyer Jansen Jontila, who was recently appointed as the new director of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in Palawan, will focus on assisting indigenous peoples (IPs) in obtaining their certificates of ancestral domain titles (CADT) and securing their rights to their lands.

Jontila said Friday to Palawan News that his appointment began on December 6. He said that under his leadership, he aims to address issues on the issuances of ancestral domain titles.

“Ang aming ipa-prioritize ngayon ay ‘yong ancestral domains, na sana ma-recognize sila, and eventually maisyuhan talaga ang mga IPs ng certificate of ancestral domain titles (CADT), which is registered talaga sila sa Land Registration Authority (LRA). Para kasi may panghahawakan talaga sila,” he said.

He previously worked as a volunteer legal officer for the socio-civic organization Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) and was a lecturer at Palawan State University (PSU). He also served as PSU’s part-time legal counsel before joining the NCIP.

Jontila stated that his office will also look into undertakings that do not adhere to the standards for free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC). These are initiatives, typically infrastructure-related, that do not receive the necessary consent from the indigenous community, who either reside in a certified ancestral domain or other comparable circumstances.

“Alam natin sa law na basta may IPs or ICCs (Indigenous Cultural Communities) in an area, a project must undergo FPIC. If there is a need to undergo FPIC, then kailangan nila mag-comply. The NCIP is there to facilitate to ensure that the process is being followed for the benefit of the IPs and the ICCs, whether it’s north or south [of Palawan],” he added.

Recent projects that were protested by indigenous communities in Palawan which involve allegedly no FPIC include the proposed Coron-Culion Inter-Island Bridge, the Ipilan Nickel Corporation’s (INC) operations in Brooke’s Point, and the ongoing conflict between the indigenous groups in Rizal town due to coconut farming.

Jontila added as well that the provincial NCIP will continue to work closely with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in its efforts to eradicate local armed rebellion in the province.