Land grabbing is among the major issues that are confronting the indigenous peoples (IPs) in Palawan, according to a local official of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
 
Mary Ann Delos Santos, officer-in-charge of NCIP in Palawan, said Friday in the Tactical Operations Wing West’s (TOW WEST) radio program UP UP Palawan that the IP problems in the province are difficult and overwhelming.
 
She said that there had been allegations of land grabbing but did not provide any more information. Disputes among IPs are also part of the problems they are dealing with.
 
“Overwhelming ang complaints sa buong Palawan. Unang-una ang land grabbing na mayroon nang nakatira na mga katutubo pero napapatituluhan pa sa iba, mga hindi actual occupant. Mayroon din parehong IP na ang nagkakaroon ng sigalot, halimbawa na lang ang royalty share, mga mahirap na i-solve,” Delos Santos said.
 
“May [nakakarating din sa atin na] katutubo nagpapagamit sa mga investors. Sila na ang humaharap at nagde-defend at sasabihin nila na sila [ang mga investors] talaga ang nandoon sa lugar na ‘yon. Hindi naman natin nilalahat pero nagbibigay ng hindi magandang reflection sa katutubong pamayanan,” she added.
 
READ RELATED NEWS:Ancestral domain still the biggest struggle among IPs in Palawan – CHR
 
Delos Santos further said that NCIP Palawan does not have a lawyer that can assist them in addressing all legal concerns filed by IPs in various areas of Palawan.
 
Other complaints, on the other hand, are forwarded to the NCIP regional office.
 
“Dito ay wala tayong lawyer, naghihintay tayo kung sino ang magpapaka bayaning lawyer ng NCIP para harapin lahat ng issues and concerns na hinaharap natin,” she said.
 
“Maraming issues lalo na isa ito sa Best Island in the World, malaki ang investment at mahal ang lupain dito,” she added. 
 
She said that, in addition to a lack of a lawyer, NCIP is also dealing with a shortage of staff and a budget.
 
“Sa dami n’yan [ng problema] ay limitado ang empleyado ng ating opisina kasi hindi talaga kakayanin. Kulang tayo ng tao at budget,” Delos Santos said.
 
In August last year, the center management office of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said ancestral domain problems continue to be the most difficult for IP groups in Palawan.
 
Atty. Jesus Torres, focal person from the CHR’s Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights Center (ESCR Center), told Palawan News then that several of the 11 IP leaders still raised concerns over their ancestral lands.
 
“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.

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is the chief of correspondents of Palawan News. She covers defense, politics, tourism, health, and sports stories. She loves to travel and explore different foods.