Bukidnon Lumads to hold congress, LGU dialogue

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/13 Sept) – Indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs) in Bukidnon will be holding a province-wide IP congress and local governance dialogue in October to consolidate their own legislative and development agenda among mandatory representatives in the province.

Datu Magdaleno Mayda Pandian, IP mandatory representative to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, said Wednesday that after careful planning, they will pursue the first ever congress on October 15 to 17, dedicated to crystallize “several issues and concerns” related to the full implementation of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA, or Republic Act 8371) in Bukidnon.

In his explanatory note to the provincial board, Pandian cited that the gathering is also aimed to determine the IPs’ “most urgent issues and priorities” that need to be addressed accordingly in aid of legislation for the recognition and protection of the ICCs/IPS.

He added that the event will also be a venue for IP mandatory representatives to harmonize their legislative and development agenda with the local government units’ local and national agenda and investment plan.

Pandian cited that there is a “continuous phenomenon of misunderstanding” among officials of the local government units and other government agencies about the underlying plight of indigenous peoples.

“This hinders opportunity of the indigenous peoples to participate and likewise benefit (from) the different government programs and projects,” he said.

Pandian argued that the Lumads’ right to participate effectively in any decision making process concerning their rights to development “must be incorporated in local government programs and projects.”

He cited as example the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) bottom up policy mechanism in Memorandum Circular 2010-19 ordering all local chief executives to strictly implement the mandatory representation of the Lumad in the policy-making bodies and other local legislative councils pursuant to IPRA.

Pandian said the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has recognized the mandatory representatives but the challenge for effective legislative and development agenda remained.

He described the event as a “very enriching forum for information, dissemination, and exchange or sharing of experiences and lessons, insights and ideas on local governance among IP leaders.”

“It also provides an avenue for dialogue and interaction between the ICCs/IPs leaders and government officials from local government units and other agencies,” he added.

Pandian said they intend to organize it for “better cooperation with respect to good governance and promoting indigenous peoples’ rights, interest and welfare.”

At the end of the congress, which is the first of its kind in the province, both sectors are expected to sign a declaration of commitment, Pandian added.

The event will be held in Malaybalay’s Folk Arts Theater. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)