Solon wants to slash NCIP budget to P1K over ancestral domain claim issues
MANILA, Philippines — Camiguin Rep. Jurdin Jesus Romualdo is pushing to reduce the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) budget to P1,000, complaining that the agency always claims that areas up for development are ancestral domains.
At the plenary debates for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Friday, Romualdo asked budget sponsor Quirino Rep. Midy Cua why the NCIP is keen on registering lands in his province under the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) when it might not have belonged to IPs.
Cua responded by saying that the conversion of Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim (CADC) to CADT is provided in Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997. However, Romualdo said that NCIP should have consulted with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) since some of these lands might have been registered already.
“The problem is they just come into any areas declaring it as an ancestral domain because there’s this IPRA law. But it doesn’t follow if you look at the IPRA law; they should have consulted with DENR before coming in whatever those lands were probably issued already registered by DENR,” Romualdo said.
“Or, for example, in the province of Camiguin, it was declared as Asean heritage, but still, they want to claim it and register it as CADT. That’s the problem with NCIP,” he added.
Cua apologized to Romualdo but maintained that NCIP is only doing its mandate, adding that new NCIP Chairperson Jennifer Sibug-Las is willing to coordinate with the Camiguin lawmaker.
However, Romualdo maintained that it is not only him who encountered problems with the NCIP, noting that businesses have complained about NCIP allegedly asking for money before allowing projects to continue.
“Yes, thank you, but as I said, it’s not only me complaining about what NCIP is doing right now all over the country, but even mining investors are really complaining. Every time there is a development, no less than the secretary of DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways] complained to me that we have this project, a water project and investors coming in, and all of a sudden NCIP came,” he said.
“Worst thing, asking for money so that they can get the signature of these IPs claiming that it’s part of the ancestral domain. And as I said, reiterating again, no less than the secretary of DPWH, Secretary Manuel Bonoan came to me and made this complaint. That’s why it’s like this. And even Secretary Loyzaga of DENR,” he added.
Cua said the money being asked by NCIP was for the right of way, noting that the lawmakers can always protest these steps taken by the commission. In response, Romualdo said he would file a resolution asking for a probe of NCIP, but he also made it clear that he wants NCIP’s budget reduced to P1,000.
The session was suspended afterward, and after it resumed, the Majority asked Romualdo to make the motion at the proper time — during the period of amendments of House Bill No. 8980 or the General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
“Therefore, I move that the allocation or budget of NCIP be P 1,000 for the GAB FY 2024,” Romualdo moved.
“There is a motion, but considering such a motion should be included at the proper time at the proper stage of an amendment, we move that the honorable congressman from Camiguin should make the motion at the proper time,” Deputy Majority Floor Leader and Pangasinan 6th District Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas said.
“Yes, during the period of amendments, we will again reiterate my motion that the allocation or budget for NCIP be P1,000 for the GAB FY 2024,” Romualdo replied.
Lawmakers had asked for a budget reduction or the deferral of the NCIP budget itself. Last September 12, NCIP was called out after its former chair Allen Capuyan, who still is a commissioner with the agency, failed to attend budget deliberations.
According to Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Abang Lingkod party-list Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano, Capuyan, representing the agency on a trip to South Korea, should have foregone the trip since he knew that questions would be focused on him.
Then, in 2022, the agency’s then-proposed 2023 budget was deferred after complaints about Capuyan’s penchant for red-tagging or linking people to the communist movement.