Robredo supports Cordillera ancestral domain; to limit agri products importation

Published December 6, 2021, 7:45 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday, Dec. 6, said she will back the passage of a bill that will protect the Cordillera ancestral domain, adding that indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) must be included in public consultations for the use of their ancestral land.

Vice President Leni Robredo (ALI VICOY/MANILA BULLETIN)

Robredo and opposition senatorial candidate, former Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr., were co-authors in the 16th Congress of the National Land Use Act.

The bill is an “important” one, she said, because it will have an established framework of what land can be converted, what cannot be converted, and what land are meant “for particular purposes.”

Included in the bill are the ICCs, which have the power to decide what to do with their ancestral domain.

“Sila ‘yung binibigyan ng kapangyarihan na sila ‘yung magde-desisyon kung papaano aayusin ‘yung gamit nung kanilang ancestral domain. Ang gusto nitong sabihin, pag sila mismo ‘yung magdedesisyon, ‘yung kanilang mga pangangailangan ay maisasaalang-alang (They are given the power to decide how to use their ancestral domain. What this means is if they will be the ones to decide, their needs are going to be considered),” Robredo explained.

The bill has been languishing in the chambers of Senator Cynthia Villar, who chairs the Senate’s committee on environment, natural resources, and climate change.

Robredo highlighted also the need to capacitate the indigenous communities, which meant that government agencies tasked to help the communities will seek to understand the problems of the communities.

“So ‘yung sa ‘kin siguraduhin na ang NCIP at saka yung mga LGUs ang kailangan na mulat sila sa mga issue ng ating ICCs at saka ng ating mga IPs para naaasikaso ito (for me, make sure that the NCIP and the LGUs understand the issue of our ICCs and our IPs to address this),” she said.

READ: Ancestral lands are ‘inseparable’ from indigenous peoples – CHR

For this to be possible, public consultations are a must, which is something that has not been put in effect because of the lack of the NALUA bill.

She described the public consultations as a mechanism that will ensure those who are affected will be heard.

The NALUA, Robredo said, “will make sure that that happens.”

She is also pushing for the review of all contracts “as far as ‘yung (the) utilization ng (of the) ancestral domains (is) concerned.”

Meanwhile, the lady official also explained that the country should only be importing agricultural products “when needed” for food security.

She is against the unnecessary importation of agricultural products because it affects the market price by which the farmers can sell their products.

Robredo said farmers need government subsidies and modernization to ensure that they can compete with import liberalization, or the reduction of tariffs and quantitative restrictions to increase imports in the market.

READ: Robredo wants Pinoy farmers to become agri-entrepreneurs

An economist, she explained that the goal of the 2019 Rice Tariffication Law is to lower the cost of the rice by allowing the entrance of more rice from foreign markets.

“Hindi siya makatarungan kasi, dahil napakataas ng- napakataas ng cost ng pag-grow ng rice at saka vegetables dito sa atin. Mas mababa ‘yung presyo ng mga pumapasok, so ang binibili ng mga Pilipino ‘yung mas mababang presyong galing sa labas (It is not just because the cost of growing rice and vegetables is too high here. The cost of the imports is lower, so the Filipinos are buying the cheaper ones from outside),” Robredo said.

The Vice President lamented that the taxes that should have been used to help farmers are not going to them.

“So ano ‘yung dapat gawin? Dapat maging policy natin na mag-iimport lang tayo pag kailangan. Dapat ‘yung (what should be done. Our policy must be to import only when needed. The) importation is just to ensure food security. Pero hindi (But not) to compete with the local production,” she stressed.