The survey was funded by the Government of the Philippines-United Nations (GoP-UN) Act for Peace Program.
The Manobo tribe is one of the four ethnolinguistic groups found in Southwestern Mindanao. The NCIP is a government agency tasked to formulate and implement policies, plans and programs for the recognition, promotion and protection of the rights and well-being of the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and the recognition of their ancestral domains.
The survey started in 1999 but it was only last year that the processing of the claims was completed after the GoP-UN ACT for Peace Program provided financial assistance to the NCIP.
NCIP provincial director Eric Raz said they are doing all their best to complete the survey and start the actual titling of the land to finally distribute to the claimants.
“We are doing everything that we can do just to fast-track the process. We are doing everything to complete and give them the titles. We are, in fact, thankful that a program has extended us financial assistance,” Raz said.
The delineation and titling of the ancestral land of the Lumads is one of the various engagements of the NCIP and the program for Manobisa and Imamaling, two of 229 areas in North Cotabato declared as Peace and Development Communities (PDCs).
In the memorandum of agreement signed by NCIP representatives and officials of the ACT for Peace, both parties regarded the importance of giving the Lumads their rightful claim for their ancestral domain, as “encroachment of these lands breed conflict.”
It is also expected that an Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP) will be laid down in these two areas.
Barangays Manobisa and Imamaling were among the project areas of the earlier phase of the ACT for Peace program of the United Nations Multi-Donor Programme, as implemented by the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo).
The program has been assisting 229 peace and development communities in North Cotabato to strengthen and sustain peace-building initiatives in Southern Philippines.
This undertaking is also supported by the Governments of Australia, New Zealand and Spain.
Sec. Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and national program director of the ACT for Peace, said the Lumads have always been confronted by the problems that threaten the security and sanctity of their culture and traditions.
This, he said, has been brought by the influx of migration, armed conflicts, and development aggression.
“The phenomenon of assimilation has alienated the IPs from their own traditional social system. The Programme recognizes the interest and welfare of the IPs. We have the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act and this has to be implemented,” Dureza said. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)