MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez promised indigenous peoples (IP) in the Cordilleras and Mindanao that he would push for them to have a separate state under a federal form of government that the Duterte administration wants to establish via Charter change.
During a roundtable discussion on the implications of federalism to IPs, organized by the House Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples chaired by Rep. Nancy Catamco, the Speaker said he wanted IPs to “govern themselves according to their customs and laws.”
In a statement, Alvarez said that under a new Charter, the federal government would “have to respect the kind of system the IPs would implement to preserve their different cultures and let them have independence in governing themselves and the management of their own natural resources.”
Moreover, the Speaker said the territories of the indigenous cultural communities “should not necessarily be contiguous because these tribes had their varied customs and traditions that had already been there since time immemorial, or prior to the arrival of foreign colonizers.”
“Therefore, their heritage should be respected and adhered to under a federal government,” he said.
The Speaker criticized the current system wherein the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was allegedly “recklessly issuing mining and logging permits to companies in areas considered as ancestral domain of the IPs.”
“This is a violation and total disrespect of the indigenous communities,” said Alvarez.
He said this alleged practice “should be totally removed from the new Constitution and all issuances should be revoked.”