Enhancing National Policy Guidelines on Land Use and Development Planning for Indigenous Peoples

The Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) took up policy recommendations from COSERAM to address conflicts on land use and overlapping claims in their planning regimes.  The enhanced Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUP) Guidebooks of 2014 provide orientation how Local Government Units plan with Indigenous Peoples and Ancestral Domains.


“Only when duty bearers internalize culture sensitivity as well as gender and rights-based approaches, (will) genuine development for Indigenous Cultural Committees / Indigenous Peoples through engagement planning exercises be realized.  Only when claim / rights holders – ICC/IPs are enabled to be responsible, can inclusive growth happen”.

Marlea Munez
Executive Director
National Commission for Indigenous Peoples


Responding to the Needs on the Ground

The communities of the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) are found in 65 provinces of the country’s 81 provinces. The Manobo, Banwaon, Higaonon, Mamanwa and Lapaknon are IPs settled in the Caraga Region of Mindanao.  Many of the indigenous communities engage in farming, livestock raising, fishing and trading of indigenous local products.


The Indigenous Peoples Rights Acts (IPRA Law) of 1997 IPRA Law identifies ancestral domains as lands, including the resources, as belonging to the IPs.

Most IPs are closely attached to their ancestral lands, territory and resources. They are considered as among the poorest and marginalized in the provision of basic services. Migrant settlers have been claiming part of the Indigenous Peoples ancestral domains. Land ownership issues were often not adequately addressed.  An emerging threat to the ancestral lands is the establishment of new plantations.

Additionally, government policies in the past allowing commercial logging, land conversion, and operation of extractive industries led to the displacement of IPs.

The ancestral domain of IP overlap and/or predominate defined political boundaries of local government territory often causing land disputes and even leading to violent conflicts in some areas.

Initiating Change

The Conflict Sensitive Resource Asset Management (COSERAM) Program, supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), is promoting an ecosystem anchored, rights-based land use and development planning approach with sensitivity to culture, conflict and gender to address resource-based conflicts and competing interests.

In 2012, the COSERAM Program and the Environment and Rural Development Program (EnRD) also supported by GIZ supported, jointly commissioned the study on “Ancestral Domains and Land Use Plans: Exploring Interfaces”.  Policy recommendations from the study are the interfacing of the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP), the land use and development plans of local government units; and integration of the concerns of Indigenous Peoples in mandated plans for forestlands, alienable and disposable lands and coastal areas.

@ GIZ / C. Larot

Two approaches were introduced: (1) interfacing (ADSDPP) with other government mandated plans, in which the processes in preparing the plans are based on shared viewpoints, joint analysis and common understanding; and (2) inter-phasing of specific steps and phases between and among planning processes through synergies, convergence and coordination to achieve harmonization, rationalization and spatial integration.

The Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) updated the guidelines on Comprehensive Land use Plan (CLUP) in 2012, and has integrated the policy recommendations identified in the guidelines.  Also, a modular training on “Understanding Ancestral Domain and Indigenous Peoples: Interfacing Planning Regimes” designed for planning teams has been prepared.  These tools put forward the promotion of cultural sensitivity and understanding of IP rights in the planning process.

Similarly, drawing from the experiences of COSERAM Program, concrete recommendations for the improvement of existing policy guidelines of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) on community planning by the Indigenous Peoples by the Indigenous Peoples are being generated. Joint efforts by the Department of interior and Local Government, NCIP and the National Anti-Poverty Commission are being pursued in the harmonization of the Comprehensive Development Plan and ADSDPP with the COSERAM Program providing technical inputs.

The COSERAM has been supporting land use and development planning processes at the local level. In Malimono, Surigao Del Norte, parallel participatory processes to formulate the Barangay Development Plans (BDP) the CLUP and Forest land use Plan (FLUP) of the municipality were carried out.  A large portion of the uplands in Malimono is part of the claim for ancestral domains by the Mamanwa Indigenous Peoples.  With support from NCIP, the concerns and interests of the Mamanwas were articulated by their representatives and integrated into the BDP/CLUP/FLUP through integrative negotiations, reflective dialogues and mapping activities.

Pangaylan-IP, a newly created barangay in Santiago, Agusan Del Norte is currently assisted by COSERAM, together with NCIP, in the formulation of their BDP.  Pangaylan-IP, is part of the area under the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) 134 which domain encompasses most of the political territories of the municipalities of Santiago, Janbonga and Kitacharao in Agusan del Norte. Pangaylan-IP, the development issues, welfare concerns, future directions, development priorities and resource allocation were discussed and agreed through dialogues with customary leaders and community participation.

In Sibagat, Agusan Del Sur, the preparation of an IP-led culture and conflict sensitive ADSDPP is being supported by COSERAM in partnership with NCIP.  The CADT covers 85 per cent of the territory of Sibagat.  The local government unit of Sibagat actively supported the preparation of the ADSDPP, simultaneously with the FLUP formulation with support from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.


Reflecting on the Lessons Learned 

Through the COSERAM Program, the NCIP and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) considered the policy recommendations on addressing conflicts on land use, overlapping claims and planning in ancestral domains in the ADSDPP Guidelines and CLUP Guidelines.  These processes should be institutionalized to ensure sustainability.

Concrete recommendations for the improvement of existing policy guidelines by the NCIP on community planning by the Indigenous Peoples are currently being developed. These initiatives serve as a guide for the development planners and decision makers in preparing culture, conflict and gender sensitive land use and development plans. 

Supporting dialogues and processes as opportunities for Indigenous Peoples to articulate their concerns and perspectives should be part of the regular planning process.

Integrative and inclusive planning processes provide avenue for clear developmental directions, and platforms for dialogues on resource allocation that aim to benefit majority of the stakeholders.

Policy recommendations require strong champions and advocates at various levels for advocacy and implementation.

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