NCIP reveals existence of ‘fraudulent’ indigenous people’s organizations in Caraga

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 Nov) – The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has revealed the existence of “fraudulent” indigenous people’s organizations (IPOs) in the Caraga Region that are falsely representing the lumads for their money-making ventures.

The NCIP, in an en banc resolution, said that the fake IPOs are “falsely claiming ancestral domains such as areas that are actually owned by legitimate indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) or in areas previously identified as having no ICCs or tribes inhabiting but are mining or potential mining areas.”

NCIP’s Resolution number 07-16-2016, although dated May 13, 2016, was received by its provincial office in Surigao del Norte only last month. MindaNews acquired a copy of the resolution only Friday last week.

The NCIP identified the fraudulent IPOs as Tribal Customary Self Governance of Mindanao, Inc. (TCSGMI), Tribal Customary Self Governance of the Philippines, Inc., (TCSGPI), and Tribal Coalition of Mindanao (TRICOM).

MindaNews tried to reach out to these IPOs but none replied to the text message. MindaNews visited TCSGMI’s office here Monday afternoon but it was closed.

“It has been found that all these fraudulent IPOs are not legitimate IPOs since they do not validly or genuinely represent Indigenous People’s (IP) or Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) or tribe in the certain area where they exist or operate, among other reasons,” the resolution said.

“It is unlawful for these IPOs to claim the rights and privileges of a duly registered IPO with NCIP and also illegal to collect membership fees from its members who are mostly non-IPs in order to become tribal members and be even accorded titles such as Datus and Baes under the guise of their ‘Balik-Kultura’ program,” the NCIP warned.

The fake IPOs, the NCIP said, have “caused confusion to some government agencies as well as mining companies since they continuously transact with them and demand that they be recognized as such although the NCIP have denied their legitimacy.”

The proliferation of the dubious IPOs has reportedly caused outrage to legitimate IPs and ICCs since their right to their ancestral domains have been to some extent disturbed and their harmonious relationship with the non-IP communities, government agencies and other stakeholders has been affected.

The three-page resolution was penned by NCIP Chair Leonor T. Oralde-Quintayo and signed by all seven commissioners.

Vicente Baldoza, provincial director of NCIP-Surigao del Norte, said the fake IPOs will be facing charges soon. “We are waiting for the victims to file formal charges against these bogus IPOs,” he said on Friday.

Baldoza said copies of the resolution were already forwarded to mining companies and other business establishments situated in the fake IPOs’ claimed ancestral domain areas to warn the public of their illegitimate status.

The NCIP has likewise denied the application of another dubious IPO in the region – the Kahugpungan Sa Nagkahiusang Tribu Nga Manununod Sa Yutang Kabilin (KANTRIMYUKA) – for an 80,000-hectare ancestral land in Carrascal, Surigao del Sur and several towns in Surigao del Norte such as Claver, Gigaquit, Bacuag, Placer, Tubod, Mainit, Sison, and Tagana-an; a portion of Surigao City, including Nonoc Island; and a portion of Dinagat Island.

The NCIP en banc, in resolution number 07-15-2016, rejected KANTRIMYUKA’s application for ancestral domain because of insufficient factual, legal and historical bases.

The NCIP noted that the members of the ancestral domain claimants of KANTRIMYUKA are the same claimants and beneficiaries of another ancestral domain in Surigao del Sur that has already been titled. Furthermore, the same members were listed as members of another IPO that applied for another ancestral domain in the same province, but which was denied by NCIP. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)