CAGAYAN DE ORO City, PH — In an effort to come up with recommendations for national government agencies (NGAs) and local government units (LGUs) and other development interventions comply with the law protecting the indigenous peoples (IPs) while at the same time comply with their own agency’s mandate, staff of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples in Northern Mindanao (NCIP-10) conducted a Reflection Session on their experiences in implementing the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) last February 20.
The FPIC is a mechanism to safeguard the rights of IPs from intrusion and other negative impact of activities and intervention implemented in ancestral domains (ADs) or in IP communities. R.A. 8371 or The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 defined FPI as “the consensus of all members of the ICCs/IPs to be determined in accordance with their respective customary laws and practices, free from any external manipulation, interference and coercion, and obtained after fully disclosing the intent and scope of the activity, in a language and process understandable to the community.”
The one-day Reflection Session first reviewed the various ways of implementing the FPIC process and sharing of the NCIP-10 staff’s learnings from their experiences in its implementation. Afterwards, they were asked to assume the role of other agencies implementing a project in an AD or IP community. The role-playing enabled the staff to reflect on the other agencies’ perception of the FPIC process, their expectations from NCIP and how they think NCIP can help them achieve the objective of their project and serve their clients while complying with the FPIC policy and upholding the rights of the IPs.
The result of the reflection was promising.
NCIP-10 came up with many items that other agencies or development project might need from NCIP. They also saw the need for more orientation and information-sharing for other agencies regarding the IPRA, and specifically FPIC, in the context of service-delivery and development. Lastly, they were able to develop some possible recommendation for the government agencies in implementing their projects.
Two points highlighted during the Reflection Session was the (1) value of dialogue in the context of FPIC for development projects, and (2) the value of convergence or cooperation.
The participants recognized the need for continuous dialogue among agencies to align their programs and project as well as dialogue with the community as for their needs and what the projects could provide. They said that cooperation, instead of competition and/or confrontation really helps in reducing the cost of dialogue, thus reduce the cost of the FPIC process and helps strengthen trust-building with the community. Convergence or cooperation also increase accountability as the cooperating agencies would “remind” each other of their commitment as well as of the importance of cultivating sensitivity to the IP culture.
As agreed during the Reflection Session, the next step is to broaden the Reflection Session to include other agencies to look into these recommendations or “tips” and reflect again based on their experiences. The role-playing tool will still be used but it will be participants from other agencies who will assume the role of NCIP staff.
The February 20 Reflection Session was participated by staff of the NCIP 10-Technical Management Services Division (TMSD), Community Service Center (CSC) staff of Gingoog City and Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, and NCIP provincial staff of Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon.