NCIP probes Nas Academy, Whang-Od controversy; public urged to report any ‘exploitation, violation’ against IPs

Published August 10, 2021, 11:35 AM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), an attached agency of the the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), is investigating if there are violations committed against Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) amidst the Whang-Od and Nas Academy controversy.

Apo Whang Od (Photo from NCCA by Marvin Alcaraz)

The NCIP, in a statement on Aug. 6, said a probe is already underway as the issue between the country’s revered mambabatok Apo Whang-Od and Nas Academy – the online ed-tech platform of Nuseir Yassin also known as Nas Daily – continues to escalate.

NCIP said that it was made aware of the issue and is currently looking into it. “Looking into the situation, this is another instance where the community intellectual rights of our Indigenous Peoples are subjected to exploitation,” the agency said.

The agency noted that an “investigation is currently being conducted to determine whether proper consultations have been undertaken.” NCIP said that also part of the probe is to determine if the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) of the proper parties have been secured.

“Rest assured that appropriate intervention from the Commission is initiated,” NCIP.

As it thanks the public for the support, the NCIP also urged everyone to report any exploitation of or violation committed against our ICCs/IPs.

“Together, we can work towards the proper implementation of the IPRA to achieve its objective of recognizing, respecting, promoting, and protecting the rights, interest, and well-being of ICCs/IPs,” NCIP said.

Not a proof of compliance

Meanwhile, NCIP Central Office also expressed support to the statement of Atty. Marlon P. Bosantog, the Regional Director of NCIP Cordillera Administrative Region who stressed that “bandying a contract on social media is not a proof of compliance.” Reiterating Section 32 of the Republic Act No. 8371 otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997 under the provision of Community Intellectual Rights, NCIP noted that ICCs/IPs have the right to practice and revitalize their own cultural traditions and customs.

“The State shall preserve, protect, and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures as well as the right to the restitution of cultural, intellectual, religious, and spiritual property taken without their Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) or in violation of their laws, traditions, and customs,” NCIP stressed.

NCIP also noted that under Section 34 of the IPRA, it was stated that ICCs/IPs are “entitled to the recognition of the full ownership and control and protection of their cultural and intellectual rights and that shall have the right to special measures to control, develop, and protect their sciences, technologies, and cultural manifestations, including but not limited to indigenous knowledge, systems, and practices, designs, and visual and performing arts.”

NCIP logo (NCIP Facebook page)

Likewise, NCIP noted that Section 16 of the IPRA-IRR also stressed the protection of manifestations of indigenous culture that such shall not be commercialized or used for tourism and advertisement purposes without the FPIC of the ICCs/IPs concerned.

“Where consent is alleged, the NCIP will ensure that there is FPIC,” the agency said.

NCIP also explained “batok” is one of the sacred and traditional cultural practices of the Kalinga ICCs, particularly of the Butbut ICC/IPs.

“Such indigenous practice is considered as collectively and community-owned by them, thus, consultation with other members of the community, not only with one individual, should have been conducted to determine whether or not they consent the use of the same,” NCIP noted.

NCIP maintained that while Apo Whang-od may “have signed the contract, there is no proof” that Nas Daily has obtained the FPIC of the Butbut ICC.