MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 20 June) – The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has initiated a census among Lumad populace in the province as part of the effort to ensure indigenous peoples are accounted for and included in governance.
Ma. Shirlene Sario, NCIP provincial officer, said Thursday the NCIP initiated the census after they found the need to check if all qualified indigenous peoples were able to avail of the national government’s conditional cash transfer program dubbed Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
“We need to know how many Lumads were included and how many more need to be in the program,” she added.
The NCIP tapped the mandatory representatives from each of Bukidnon’s 464 barangays as enumerators in the census.
The census started on May 31. NCIP-Bukidnon, Sario said, is trying to beat the June 21deadline for submission of the initial master list – for those qualified to be beneficiaries of 4Ps.
Sario added that for all IPs, they are targeting the end of July to produce statistics.
Sario cited that about 3,000 Lumad families in Malaybalay alone were reported to be victims of Typhoon Pablo in December last year but were unable to receive assistance from the local government.
“This means a lot of IPs are unaccounted for in governance,” she added.
Sario said they have suspended all other activities at NCIP Bukidnon, except for urgent matters, during the period of the census.
This is top priority for us to do, she stressed.
Sario added that a person is a member of the indigenous people by affinity and by blood. She said even if the person is traced in his genealogy to have only 12.5 percent Lumad blood, he is considered IP.
Sario said the IPs will continue to be displaced if they are unaccounted for. Among the reasons they are not included, she pointed out, are barriers in registration such as birth, which affect their participation in government projects like 4Ps.
She added that they are working on a full IP census, not just for those qualified for 4Ps.
Datu Magdalino Pandian, IP mandatory representative to the Bukidnon provincial board, said the government should have done the project long ago so the IPs can benefit from the government’s projects just like other people.
He added that the barangay mandatory representatives work on the census as volunteers just so the data will be made available.
He cited that the census could help especially to address problems among children, like the lack of education.