A Manobo leader-slash-congresswoman castigated on Friday the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) for its supposed spending spree amid problems of hunger and displacement of IPs from their ancestral lands.
“Mariin naming kinukundena ang labis labis na pagwawaldas ng NCIP sa mga mamahaling pagkain at hotel habang nagugutom at nawawalan ng tahanan ang libu-libong katutubo na pinapalayas mula sa lupang ninuno para sa mga dambuhalang proyektong minahan, plantasyon at dam na pinapapasok ng NCIP. (We condemn the NCIP’s overspending on expensive food and hotel accommodations while thousands of IP have been suffering from hunger and displacement, all because of huge projects on mining, plants, and dams being entered by the NCIP),” Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Eufemia Cullamat said.
Cullamat was referring to the findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) report saying that NCIP spent P4.816 million at costly hotels and restaurants for its activities between 2018 and 2019.
“Matagal na naming kinukondena ang ahensyang ito dahil ginagamit lang kami para sa sariling interest ng NCIP. May budget para sa indigenous people’s protection ngunit hindi naman namin nararamdaman ang nasabing proteksyong ito. (We have long condemned this agency as they’ve been using us for their personal interests. There’s a budget for indigenous people’s protection but we haven’t felt this protectio),” said the neophyte solon.
“Bagkus ang budget na ito ay ginagamit sa pagpaplano kung paano buwagin ang aming pagkakaisa sa pagprotekta sa aming lupang ninuno laban sa mga mapanirang proyekto tulad ng mina (Instead, this budget has been used on planning how to dismantle our unity in protecting our ancestral lands from destructive projects such as mining,” the Lumad solon claimed.
Cullamat said it is the NCIP itself that spearheads the sale of ancestral lands through the awarding of Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles. She said these titles have led to the entry of large-scale mining in these land.
“Ngayon malinaw na ang napakalaking budget ay ginagamit lamang sa mga aktibidad na hindi sa interes naming mga katutubo (Now it’s clear that the huge budget is being used on activities that are not in the interest of us natives),” Cullamat added.
The lady solon said these instances justify the IPs’ appeal for the abolition of the NCIP “because they are neither respecting our right for self-determination nor protecting our ancestral lands.”