Aquino honors indigenous peoplesBy TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
President Aquino on Tuesday honored the indigenous people (IP) for their role in the country’s fight against colonizers, but admitted his administration had been slow in issuing ancestral domain titles.
The President said that many Filipinos’ image of IPs came from the hordes of IPs that trekked to Manila and nearby provinces after Mt. Pinatubo in Zambales erupted in 1991, some begging for loose change.
“It seems that many, especially the youth, have forgotten that our IPs were part of our armed forces of the first Republic. They had come down to help defend our country against the colonizers,” he said in speech marking the 15th anniversary of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act.
As the country’s leader, Aquino said it was his job to ensure that all Filipinos treat the IPs with dignity.
“As the President, and above all, as your fellow Filipino, my door will remain open to your suggestions for the forging of new ways to take care of the welfare of our IPs,” he said at the Government Service Insurance System building in Pasay City. His speech was aired over government-run dzRB.
Apart from becoming part of the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cluster, and Mining Industry Coordinating Council, Aquino said the government should ensure that the IPs were involved in the crafting of laws and decision-making process at the local level.
At present, more than 850 IPs are members of local legislative councils, he said.
In terms of distribution of certificates of ancestral domain titles, the President admitted that his administration has so far granted only a few, compared with previous administrations.
From 1998 to present, a total of 158 such certificates had been granted, benefiting 918,500 claim holders, he said.