Press Release
September 9, 2011

Legarda: IPs in Luzon to Voice Out Their Concerns in IP Assembly

Senator Loren Legarda will lead today, September 9, the opening of the two-day Luzon Indigenous Peoples (IP) Assembly at the Quezon Hall, Teacher's Camp in Baguio City, which she said will be the venue where leaders of various Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) in Luzon can voice out the concerns of their groups.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities and Committee on Climate Change, said that the gathering is primarily a consultation between IP leaders and the government.

"We want to know straight from our indigenous brothers and sisters the concerns of their respective communities and of IPs as a whole. We need to know if the programs of our government and the legislations we craft are in tune with their special needs, particularly in preserving their culture and traditions," she explained.

The Senator said that despite the passage of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997, which restored the rights over IP's ancestral domains and recognized the need to preserve the cultural integrity of ICCs, significant improvement in the communities' socio-economic and cultural well-being is still wanting.

"Much is desired to ensure improved access to basic health services and education, sustainable development of ancestral lands and resources, economic empowerment, and development of traditional knowledge, skills and practices," Legarda stressed.

"This Regional Assembly seeks to provide a platform in helping communicate and achieve these objectives through our collective efforts. We envision this assembly to serve as a mechanism to strengthen the voices of the IP leaders as they engage in dialogue with local and national policy-makers as well as international institutions," she added.

Among the Luzon IP groups participating in the assembly are the Isneg, Bago, Tingguian, Kankanaey, Iwak, Ibatan, Agta, Itawes, Tuwali, Gaddang, Bugkalot, Ayangan, Tiblac, Ivatan and the Dumagat.

Meanwhile, government agencies that will participate in the gathering are the Cordillera Administrative Region's (CAR) and Region I to V's regional directors of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Justice (DOJ), among other national government agencies.

The Luzon IP Assembly--along with the assembly of IPs of the Visayas which will be held in Iloilo City on September 23-24 and the assembly of IPs of Mindanao which will be held in Davao del Norte on September 16-17--s a prelude to the Indigenous Cultural Summit in Manila on October 13-14, 2011.

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