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NOVEMBER 23, QUEZON CITY — DENR Secretary Gina Lopez met with Dumagat and Remontado IP leaders of Samahan ng mga Katutubong Agta na Ipinagtatanggol at Binabaka ang Lupaing Ninuno (SAGIBIN-LN), Tribal Center for Development (TCD), and KATARUNGAN to discuss particular environmental and IP-related concerns.

In a brief, exclusive meeting with our leaders, Secretary Lopez discussed her plans for the National Greening Program (NGP) that could be implemented in the areas of Quezon. She particularly campaigned for the mangrove program, which should be a stepping stone towards other community-based livelihood programs that aims not only to promote the environment, but also to alleviate poverty within the communities.

The leaders are hopeful about the proposed NGP. “Mas maganda naman dahil sa hirap  ng buhay saamin, pangunahing makakatugon yun sa mga kakulangan sa mga ka-tribo ko roon. Una, may pangangalaga ng kalikasan, [at pangalawa] may mga proyekto na patuloy na pagkakakitaan ng mga katutubo,” says Ka Marcelino Tena, President of SAGIBIN. They want to emphasize, however, the need for execute the Free Prior Informed Consent when implementing these NGPs.

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            “Ang problema, [kung] sinu-sino ang nagsisipasok sa lupaing ninuno na hindi namin nalalaman. Hindi lang usapin ng NGP, kundi mga proyektong pang-LGU na hindi namin nalalaman. Lahat ng proyekto, ang mahalaga may FPIC,” Ka Marcelino added.

Certificate of Ancestral Domain

When confronted with the slow awarding of Certificate Ancestral Domain Titles (CADT) for the IP’s of Quezon, Sec. Lopez was quick to respond: “The use of the land is for people! […] I want you happy and healthy!” She proceeded to endorse the issue to her Usec. for IP’s and Usec. for Operations.

Although happy with the result of the brief meeting with the Secretary, IP leaders expressed certain concerns with regards to the actual implementation of the awarding of CADT’s, which is the main priority for our IP leaders. In General Nakar alone, one CADT covering 144 hectares remains to be awarded.

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            “Ako ay masaya, pero sa kabila noon meron ding pangamba,” said Ka Conching Calzado, TCD director. “Hilaw pa rin ang mga sagot doon sa sulat. […] Pabinbin pa rin – kailangan pa rin pag-usapan ng mga concerned personnel niya. Paano kung ang Usec na assigned saamin hindi naman ganoon ka-dedicated. Paano kung hindi ma-priority ang projection para sa awarding ng CADT. Siguro matutuwa ako kung ang CADT ay maiaward na at yung IPS makilala na.”

In her earlier speech in People’s Day, Secretary Lopez expressed her commitment to a people-centered social justice: “all the processes of DENR, by law, by constitution must have social justice. […] I instructed the RD’s of DENR that the first priority towards the use of land is the people living there.”

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