National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Philippines

When it comes to advocating and providing assistance to marginalized populations, there’s no entity quite like the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). This organization stands as a champion for the rights and welfare of indigenous communities in the Philippines, which make up at least 12% of the population.

With a deep commitment to preserving their cultural heritage and ensuring their voices are heard, NCIP plays a crucial role in bridging gaps and fostering inclusive development among Filipinos. Their efforts are instrumental in bringing about equitable opportunities and empowerment for these historically underrepresented groups.

Credits: NCIP / Facebook

Background and History of NCIP

The NCIP has its roots in various historical phases, each contributing to the evolving understanding and recognition of indigenous rights in the Philippines. It began with the “Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes” in 1914, aiming to assimilate indigenous communities under American colonial rule.

  • This evolved into the “Commission on National Integration” in 1964, acknowledging the unique cultural identities of these communities.
  • The Presidential Decree of 1979 and the establishment of the Office of Muslim Affairs and Cultural Communities in 1984 further signified shifts towards respecting indigenous autonomy and traditions.
  • Crucially, the post-EDSA Revolution period and the indigenous rights movement of the late 1980s laid the groundwork for the NCIP’s establishment.
  • The “Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA)” of 1997, a landmark legislation, formally recognized and protected the rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples, leading to the creation of NCIP in 1998. This act marked a significant shift towards acknowledging indigenous rights, including the protection of ancestral domains and cultural integrity.

Mission and Vision of NCIP

NCIP’s mission focuses on the protection and promotion of the well-being of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples, respecting their unique beliefs, customs, and traditions. Its vision is to cultivate a society where these communities live in harmony, with their ancestral lands protected, cultures thriving, and traditional institutions empowered.

Despite challenges like limited resources and conflicts over ancestral domains, the NCIP has made considerable strides in securing these domains, promoting self-governance, and advocating for policy reforms to support indigenous communities.

Role and Functions of NCIP

The NCIP stands as a vital institution in the Philippines, safeguarding the rights and interests of the country’s diverse Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs). Established under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA), the NCIP plays a crucial role in ensuring the well-being and empowerment of over 14-17 million Filipinos belonging to over 110 distinct ethno-linguistic groups.

NCIP’s Primary Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Protecting and promoting the ICCs/IPs’ rights: This encompasses upholding their ancestral domain rights, cultural integrity, self-determination, and equal access to opportunities.
  • Facilitating the recognition and delineation of ancestral domains: The NCIP issues Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs) and assists communities in asserting their land rights.
  • Advocating for and formulating policies: The NCIP works closely with other government agencies and stakeholders to ensure that policies affecting ICCs/IPs are just and inclusive.
  • Providing legal assistance and representation: The NCIP empowers ICCs/IPs to navigate the legal system and defend their rights through legal aid and representation.
  • Promoting socio-economic development: The NCIP collaborates with various partners to improve the living conditions of ICCs/IPs by supporting education, healthcare, and livelihood opportunities.
  • Documenting and preserving indigenous knowledge: The NCIP recognizes the immense value of traditional knowledge systems and practices, working to document and share them for future generations.

NCIP’s Role in Ancestral Domain Recognition

Ancestral domains are the traditional territories and resources where ICCs/IPs have lived for generations. Recognizing these domains is crucial for their cultural survival, environmental stewardship, and economic development. The NCIP plays a key role in this process by:

  • Conducting ancestral domain delineation: This involves working with ICCs/IPs to map and document the boundaries of their ancestral lands.
  • Mediating land conflicts: The NCIP facilitates dialogue and negotiation between ICCs/IPs and other stakeholders to resolve land disputes peacefully.
  • Issuing CADTs: These certificates provide legal recognition and protection for ICCs/IPs’ ancestral domain rights.

NCIP’s Involvement in Policymaking and Advocacy

The NCIP actively participates in shaping national policies and advocating for the rights of ICCs/IPs in various ways:

  • Engaging in legislative processes: The NCIP provides inputs and recommendations on proposed laws and policies affecting ICCs/IPs.
  • Raising public awareness: The NCIP educates the broader public about indigenous cultures and traditions, promoting understanding and respect for ICCs/IPs’ rights.
  • Collaborating with civil society organizations: The NCIP partners with NGOs and other stakeholders to advocate for the rights of ICCs/IPs and address their concerns.
NCIP logo
logo of NCIP Philippines

Programs and Initiatives of NCIP

Ancestral Domain/Land Recognition

  • Certificates of Ancestral Domain and Land Titles (CADTs and CALTs): Under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), these certificates formally recognize the rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) to possess and own their ancestral domains and lands.

Assistance to Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP) Formulation

  • Technical and Financial Support: NCIP provides support in creating comprehensive, integrated plans for sustainable management and development of ancestral domains. These plans encompass protection strategies, livelihood, education, infrastructure, self-governance, environmental management, and cultural preservation.
  • Focus on Self-Governance and Development: The program emphasizes the rights of ICCs/IPs to self-governance, self-determination, and equitable participation in national development.

Culturally Appropriate Responsive and Gender-Sensitive Socio-Economic and Ecology Development Protection Services

  • Policy Support and Assistance: This program ensures that ICCs/IPs benefit directly from socio-economic services and policies. It aims to integrate indigenous perspectives and needs into broader government programs.

IP Education and Advocacy Services

  • Educational Assistance and Scholarships: The NCIP offers financial assistance and scholarships to deserving students from ICCs/IPs, based on specific criteria and guidelines.
  • Support and Advocacy Programs: These include various education-related initiatives, such as review programs for licensure exams, health programs, social infrastructure projects, and training in culturally appropriate IP education.

IP Culture Services

  • Cultural Preservation and Public Awareness: The NCIP supports the practice of indigenous rituals, ceremonies, and cultural expressions. It focuses on authentic representation, avoiding stereotypes and commercialization, and promoting public respect for indigenous cultures.

IP Health Services

  • Inclusive Health Care: Aligning with the Universal Health Care policy and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, this program aims to provide equitable health services to ICCs/IPs, respecting their traditional medicines and practices.

Gender and Rights-based Services

  • Empowerment and Representation: This sub-program strengthens indigenous socio-political structures and systems, ensuring representation in policy-making bodies and protecting the rights to self-governance and self-determination.

IP Rights Advocacy and Monitoring of Treaty Obligations

  • Human Rights Advocacy: The program promotes IPRA as a framework for indigenous rights, advocating for ancestral domains as territories of peace and development, and ensuring the recognition and protection of indigenous peoples’ human rights.

Legal Services

  • Indigenous Peoples Legal Assistance (IPLA): NCIP provides legal representation and assistance to ICCs/IPs in various legal forums.
  • Paralegal Training: This aims to educate community members about their rights and legal remedies, and assists them in accessing justice.
  • Documentation of Customary Laws: NCIP documents customary laws to preserve them and use them effectively in dispute resolution.

Adjudication Services

  • Quasi-Judicial Functions: NCIP, through its Regional Hearing Offices and Commission En Banc, resolves claims and disputes involving ICCs/IPs’ rights, adhering to IPRA guidelines and relevant jurisprudence.

These programs collectively aim to empower ICCs/IPs, ensuring their rights are respected and their voices heard in the national development dialogue.

Collaborations and Partnerships

The NCIP is pivotal in advocating for the rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) in the Philippines. This role is significantly enhanced through various partnerships and collaborative efforts with different stakeholders.

Partnerships with Government Bodies

  • Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR): NCIP and DENR work in tandem to address environmental issues impacting ancestral domains. Their joint efforts are crucial for sustainable management of natural resources.
  • Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR): In collaboration with DAR, NCIP helps in land titling and distribution within ancestral domains, ensuring that land rights are respected and upheld.
  • Department of Education (DepEd): Together with DepEd, NCIP develops and implements education programs that are culturally relevant and sensitive to the needs of ICC/IP communities.
  • Local Government Units (LGUs): NCIP partners with LGUs to enact the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) at the local level, fostering the inclusion of ICC/IPs in local governance and decision-making processes.

Collaborations with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

  • Tebtebba Foundation: This organization partners with NCIP in promoting indigenous knowledge systems and advocating for the rights of ICC/IPs.
  • Save the Children Philippines: They collaborate on initiatives focusing on education, health, and child protection in ICC/IP communities.
  • Haribon Foundation: This partnership focuses on environmental conservation and sustainable development within ancestral domains.

The Role of Community Engagement and Participation

Community engagement and participation are central to NCIP’s approach, ensuring that ICC/IPs are actively involved in all aspects of decision-making and program implementation.

  • Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC): NCIP upholds the principle of obtaining FPIC from ICC/IPs for any project or policy that may affect them. This process guarantees that communities are well-informed and can voice their concerns freely.
  • Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representatives (IPMRs): IPMRs are appointed by NCIP to represent ICC/IPs in various governmental bodies and decision-making processes, ensuring their perspectives are considered.
  • Community Consultations and Dialogues: Regular interactions with ICC/IP communities help NCIP to gather insights and feedback, essential for informed policy and program development.

Through these diverse collaborations and a strong focus on community engagement, NCIP diligently works towards fulfilling its mission of protecting and promoting the rights and well-being of ICC/IPs in the Philippines.

Video: WATCH | First 100 Days of the NCIP Chairperson with the NCIP Workforce

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Get a glimpse of the NCIP’s commitment led by Ms. Jennifer Pia Sibug-Las as the appointed chairperson, as featured in this video. This insightful watch provides an in-depth look at the initiatives, challenges, and milestones achieved by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) under new leadership. Witness firsthand how the NCIP, together with its dedicated workforce, navigates the complexities of advocating for Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines. Discover the strategies, community engagements, and policy developments that have marked the Chairperson’s first 100 days, setting a tone of proactive and empathetic governance for the NCIP.

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