The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on June 3 to promote the creation of special economic zones in ancestral lands.
The MOA signing was attended by PEZA Director General Charito Plaza and NCIP Chairman Allen Capuyan.
According to Capuyan, the conversion of rural areas into economic zones will bring significant socio-economic growth to Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs).
It is set to make basic needs such as food, education, health, right to environmental protection, justice, human rights, and good governance accessible, he added.
Some of the guidelines in the MOA are requiring future investors or developers in the ecozones to pay a direct lease payment to the ICCs/IPs, prioritizing them on any available jobs, and considering them as primary suppliers for their businesses, shared Plaza.
She also emphasized that the purpose of their agreement is to put an end to the exploitation of companies and even some government agencies to the ICCs/IPs and their lands.
The signed agreement is under Administrative Order 18 issued by the Office of the President in June 2019 entitled “Accelerating Rural Progress through Robust Development of Special Economic Zones in the Countryside." (Luisa Cabato)