PROGRAM 3: Indigenous Peoples Rights Protection Program

Sub-Program 1: Gender and Rights Based Services

This sub-program covers strategic efforts to protect the rights of the Indigenous Peoples to self-governance and self-determination ensuring that, but not limited to the following

1. The socio-political structures, systems and institutions of ICCs/IPs are strengthened;
2. The Indigenous structures, systems and institutions are not supplanted by other forms of non-indigenous governance; and/or
3. The established mechanisms that allow the interfacing of Indigenous systems of governance with the national systems are established; and
4. The ICC/IP representation in policy and decision-making bodies are institutionalized.

Sub-Program 2: IP Rights Advocacy and Monitoring of Treaty Obligations

In context, Indigenous Peoples human rights and violations of these rights in hinged on the ICCs/IPs existence or societies of their own even before foreign colonization of the Philippines. Having their own people, government and territories have been the foundation of their cultural identity, rights to self-determination and ancestral domains. To ICCs/IPs therefore, human rights is the respect of their collectiveness as groups of peoples and at the same time, recognizing their rights as citizens of a bigger society of the Philippine Republic. Their rights are human rights too.

The IP Human Rights Program, with full participation and consultation with ICCs/IPs, aims to contribute to the organizational outcome of the Commission. It seeks to promote the IPRA as an ICCs/IPs national framework of their human rights, to advocate ancestral domains as territories of peace and IPs self-determined development, human security and well- being.
The program strategy shall focus on the IPRA, international rights and other instruments from legal frameworks into a well-defined call for action involving various sectors such as international and national government, non-government organizations (NGOs), civil society groups (CSOs), ICCs/IPs leadership structures and IP organizations and the private sector towards the full enjoyment of ICCs/IPs human rights. A close networks built from ancestral domains, municipality, provincial, regional and national levels should be strengthened. Moreover, coordination and monitoring systems and mechanisms or the promotion and protection of IP rights at all levels shall also be enhanced through the program.

The overall objectives of the program are the following:

General: To ensure that the basic human rights of indigenous peoples/indigenous cultural communities (IPs/ICCs) basic social, political, cultural and economic rights are respected, recognized, protected and promoted, to promote ancestral domains as territories of peace and advocate the principle that Indigenous Peoples (IPs) rights are human rights and the respect of which will realize both the self-determined development and security of IPs as human being and ancestral domains/communities as a whole.

Sub-Program 3: Legal Services

There are three components of the Legal Services. These are:

1. Indigenous Peoples Legal Assistance (IPLA)
The IPRA mandates the NCIP to protect and promote the interest and well-being of the ICCs/IPs with due regard to their beliefs, customs, traditions and institutions. The same law likewise considers the NCIP as the primary government agency through which ICCs/IPs can seek government assistance and as the medium through which such assistance may be extended.
With the aforementioned mandates, the NCIP, through its Central, Regional, and Provincial lawyers and legal officers, provides legal assistance and services to the ICCs/IPs by representing them before the regular courts and quasi-judicial bodies, conducting investigations on the basis of complaints filed by the ICCs/IPs, preparing pleadings and other legal documents for said clients or simply rendering legal opinion or advisory.

2. Paralegal Training
The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), through its lawyers and legal officers, renders legal assistance to IP clients as part of the general mandate of the Office to recognize, protect and promote the rights of our ICCs/IPs
The paralegal training program seeks to educate and inform ICCs/IPs of their rights, the various applicable remedies they have in case these rights are violated and abused, and the different jurisdiction (courts, prosecution offices, quasi-judicial and administrative bodies, and other government agencies) where they may lodge their complaints for such violations.
IPs from communities need to be trained in order that they may assist other members of their communities in reporting violations of their rights and gathering pieces of evidence, as well as assist NCIP or their private lawyers on legal concerns brought to them for proper action. Adequate and appropriate training is a must for paralegals in order that they may be able to assist other members of the community in accessing justice. Paralegals must not only be aware of the basic provisions of laws relating to IPs but must also be aware of their roles and limitations in assisting people. They must also be trained on keeping records and be provided exposure to various government agencies so that they are able to help others approach these agencies.

3. Documentation of Customary Laws
The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 or Republic Act No. 8371 provides for the primacy of customary laws and practices in resolving disputes. Section 65 of IPRA provides that when disputes involve ICCs/IPs, customary laws and practices shall be used to resolve the dispute.
Furthermore, Section 63 of the same law states that customary laws, traditions and practices of the ICCs/IPs of the land where the conflict arises shall be applied first with respect to property rights, claims and ownership, hereditary succession and settlement of land dispute.
Several administrative orders and guidelines of the NCIP also emphasize the importance and primacy of customary laws in resolving disputes involving ICCs/IPs.
It essential to undertake the documentation of customary laws not only for the sake of documentation and preservation, but in order to have a full understanding of these laws and practices, and to have ready and available resources in resolving disputes brought before the NCIP. Thus, considering the importance of customary laws, the NCIP is tasked to undertake the documentation of customary laws.

Sub-Program 4: Adjudication Services

The IPRA mandates the NCIP, acting through its Regional Hearing Offices (RHOs) and the Commission En Banc (CEB) and in the exercise of its quasi-judicial powers, to resolve all claims and disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs, subject to the provisions of the IPRA and its implementing Rules, and other regulations, as well as, pertinent jurisprudence. With the aforementioned mandate, the NCIP, through its RHOs and CEB reviews cases submitted before it for adjudication, as a quasi-judicial tribunal, and after due proceedings and hearings, resolves the issues raised for adjudication.