Ancestral domain inclusion in BDP to empower IP communities
By Priam Nepomuceno / Philippine News Agency
MANILA – The inclusion of the ancestral domain into the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC)'s Barangay Development Program (BDP) would mean the empowerment of indigenous peoples (IP) communities.
"So we believe that the inclusion of the ancestral domain in the BDP is a welcome development because when you talk about the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army), you talk about poverty alleviation as one of the components of providing solutions to these areas," said National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Regional Director for Caraga, lawyer Marlon Bosantog, in an online press conference on May 10.
Bosantog, who is also NTF ELCAC Legal Cooperation Cluster spokesperson, added that the IPs have been the most vulnerable and high-exploited sector of Philippine society to communist terrorist abuses.
"We understand that the most vulnerable and highly exploited sector of our society has been the IPs for quite a long time. So if you run body count to the number of datus and the stewards that were killed this year, last year and previous years, you will see that the numbers run as high as 100, 200, or 300. We have been counting, making count, aabot na iyan mga (it would reach around) 2,000 plus IPs that were killed," he said.
This is also why grass-roots empowerment and development are important for IP communities
"You talk about empowerment, grass-roots empowerment. So when I was talking to them the other day, ang sabi nila they are quite happy kasi magkakaroon sila ng (they will have a) tribal hall, magkakaroon sila ng (they will have a) birthing clinic, magkakaroon sila ng (they will have) health centers. That’s why when the news that BDP is going to be defunded, they were raising their voice against it. Kasi bakit nila tatanggalin iyong prinamis (promised) sa kanila eh iyon iyong mga (why would they remove it, it was promised to) areas for they can actually develop. You bring in resources, you bring in empowerment," Bosantog said.
And this is the reason why the BDP is critical in solving insurgency problems inside the ancestral domain, he added.
Aside from these development efforts among IP communities, he said they have been also pursuing accountability and justice to the people who have been victimized by the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front (NDF) and their front organizations.
This is especially to those who have been exploited, enslaved, and killed by the communist terrorists and their allies.
"We have (a) concept in criminal law that states that if you are one in the criminal enterprise if your criminal intent is singular, you become accountable for the crimes that the other participants actually committed. Kaya kahit iyong pumapatay is iyong (if the one who killed is) NPA na utos ng (upon orders) CPP, but if you are complicit, you are a conspirator, you adopt this particular action. it doesn’t end there, the accountability. Iyong mga nasa (those in) open organization, nasa (those in) underground organization are equally accountable to the crimes committed by these people," he said.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
12 lines of efforts
Meanwhile, NCIP Chairperson Allen Capuyan said the NTF ELCAC is using 12 lines of effort to contain and prevent the expansion of the communist terrorist groups (CTGs) in the countryside.
These lines of efforts respond to the 10 major programs which the CTGs are using in their expansion efforts, he added.
"We have the local government empowerment to confront the mass base building. We have the basic services cluster to look into the needs of the different sectors of our society. We have the infrastructure and resource management to look into the resources and the management of it that would benefit the wide sector of our society," said Capuyan, who is also NTF ELCAC Executive Director.
Aside from this, the NTF ELCAC also has poverty reduction, employment, and livelihood to make sure that there are sustained undertakings in the communities starting with the production and marketing, he added.
"Then we have legal cooperation to make sure that laws are enforced under our legal offensive. We have our international engagement that looks into the activities of the communist terrorist internationally. We have the strategic communications that are present in front of you right now that not only spread the programs of the different government agencies but also present the true picture of the CTG(s)," he said.
The NTF ELCAC, he said also has the defense cluster which includes the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine Coast Guard to deal with security threats.
"Then we have the E-CLIP ( Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program) program that provides the support to all the rebels that go back to the folds of the law. There are benefits that are being provided from several agencies of government in this program," he added.
Capuyan said the NTF ECLAC supports the so-called local peace engagement because they strongly believe that the real owners of peace are not CPP founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison and his allies but also the local government and the different communities.
Aside from these lines of efforts, he said the NTF ELCAC wants to capacitate and mobilize the different sectors of society in expressing their rights aside from being human rights sensitive.
This means the body makes sure that it does not violate the rights of anyone but strongly advocates for its protection.
"So all these work together with the Joint Regional Task Force, we have 17 Regional Joint Regional Task Forces bringing together the Peace, Regional Peace and Order Council and the Regional Development Council as directed by the President. And we have provincial task forces, municipal down to (the) barangay. We also have the lines of efforts at the regional level. This is only the government working together in a whole-of-government and on the whole-of-nation approach," Capuyan said. (PNA)