Titling and Natural Resource Management in Ancestral Domains

Since 2011, the Conflict Sensitive Resource and Asset Management (COSERAM) Program supports an integrated approach of poverty reduction and peace building in the region of Caraga and other conflict-affected areas in the Philippines. The COSERAM Program is a joint undertaking of the Philippine and German Governments, implemented by GIZ and partner agencies. The core process on Titling and Natural Resource Management in Ancestral Domains (NRMiAD) supports the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in the recognition, protection, promotion and fulfilment of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) rights within their ancestral domains. The NRMiAD core process helps in the promotion of the IPs rights to their ancestral domain and the development and protection of the resources therein through an enhanced formulation of their Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plans (ADSDPPs).  


The 1987 Constitution recognizes and promotes the rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs). The enabling legislation, Republic Act 8371, “The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997” or IPRA, establishes all necessary mechanisms for the actual promotion, protection, recognition, and fulfillment of all rights guaranteed therein. Therefore, NCIP was created to help establish these mechanisms in practice. In the Philippines, the struggle for the recognition and protection of IPs rights within their ancestral domains continues until today. IPs are continually threatened by the dominance of business interests, i.e. mining, logging, industrial plantations, etc., reflected in development plans which unfortunately often run counter to IPs interests.

With nearly 20 years of existence of IPRA, both the IPs themselves and other holders of vested rights (e.g. holders of validly issued tenurial instruments and titles), as well as duty bearers, such as the NCIP and other mandated agencies of government, civil society organizations (CSOs), and IP organizations, continue facing significant challenges.


NRMiAD works on the following sub-processes in achieving its goals: a) the promotion of critical ethnography through the use of the Ethnographic Field Manual (EFM) and its derivative usages (in e.g. documentation of Indigenous Political Structures); b) formulation of Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plan (ADSDPP) in favour and conducive to IP interests; and c) promotion of the IP agenda.

The emphasis on critical ethnography stand as basis in ascertaining the condition of the IPs in the Ancestral Domains and the development of responses thereof through the formulation of the Indigenous Peoples Peace Agenda (IPPA). These processes need the strengthening and restructuring of NCIP as the institution legally mandated to recognize, promote, protect and fulfill the bundle of rights of the IPs enshrined in the Constitution.

Critical ethnography provides a lens where rights may be best promoted through titling processes and plan formulations. This approach aims at building the capacities of the NCIP field personnel in supporting the IPs in undergoing these processes. These improved capacities at individual level (knowledge and skills) are to be complemented by enhanced policies at organizational level with NCIP itself. Meanwhile, the enhancement of the ADSDPP formulation ensures inclusive and sustainable development of the ancestral domains – people, land, and resources. How-to-manuals and primers have been developed that lay out approaches, methods and steps in detail.


These products and services were developed from experiences with ancestral domain claims of the Banwaons, Higaonons, Manobos in Agusan del Sur, and plan formulations in Bislig, Surigao del Sur and Sibagat, Agusan del Sur. The subsequent usage of these products and services will provide additional input and lessons learned on how to further improve these products and services in specific areas and situations of indigenous communities.

Anticipated Results

  • Increased culture and conflict sensitivities in ancestral domain titling processes through critical ethnography and utilization of the published EFM by all regions in the Philippines.
  • Recognition of indigenous models through enhanced ADSDPP formulation, as well as approaches, methods and tools which tailor towards IP interests in development, protection and conservation practices.
  • Customary and traditional understanding of land ownership and resource use is recognized and promoted in development planning.

Lead Executing Partners:

National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)

Other drivers of the Process:

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Indigenous Peoples Organizations (IPOs)

Target Groups:

Marginalized population, especially Indigenous Peoples


January 2011-December 2018

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