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Policies set to affirm IPs right to knowledge property

Display Date: 12/3/13

Written by Anna Marie Bautista

“When IKSP disappears, we also disappear.”

This statement from Atty. Amador Batay-an, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)-CAR Regional Director, emphasizing the importance of Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP) towards the development and strengthening of the rural communities in the Cordillera Adminstrative Region (CAR).

One of the highlights of the Second KnowledgeLearning Market (KLM) currently held in Baguio Crown Legacy Hotel on December 2-4, 2013 is the series of policy sessions, first of which is on Indigenous Natural Resource Management Practices in the Cordilleras.

According to Atty. Batay-an the lecturer of the first session, CAR is one of the main prospects in the Research Industry where indigenous practices are concerned. In the past, indigenous knowledge were taken and extracted from the community members, thus, generating unregulated researches.

NCIP then formulated a set of provisions to protect IKSPs and the indigenous peoples themselves throughout the country. The commission came out with Administrative Order No. 1 Series of 2012 or The Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSPs) and Customary Laws (CLs) Research and Documentation Guidelines of 2012.

This administrative order aims at regulating the research process to protect the community, and have them benefit from the researches being made in their respective area.

With the provisions set, the indigenous communities who are subject of research are expected to have a copy of the final research output. Likewise they should be given a royalty fee, an income derived from the use of the research output.

Moreover, the researcher should also pay the user fee. This fee is due from commercial users of various IKSPs or unprotected materials that are not subject tocopyright or any derivatives. Other benefits depend on the agreements set by both parties, as prescribed in their Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).

After the presentation, some issues and queries were raised during the open forum. One of which is the coverage of the general provisions. These provisions can be modified if the researcher is a student and is an inhabitant from the community subject for research. The student may go directly to the elders of the community and ask for endorsement preferably written, stating that they are allowing the student to conduct the research.

Aside from the provisions set, NCIP briefly discussed the corresponding responsibilities on the part of the researcher, the IP communities and the commission itself in the proper implementation of the said administrative order, towards a better relationship among the stakeholders, and the success of the community as well.

The Indigenous System of Preserving the Environment

Lapat  literally means prohibit. It is a century old system of regulating the use of natural resources among the upland Tinguian tribes of Abra.  It enjoins all community members and neighboring communities to abide by its rules, like refraining from cutting trees in the forest, gathering of rattan, hunting of wild animals and even fishing in the river.  The ban covers the whole LAPAT area for a definite period.

The LAPAT, while common to almost all of the mountain tribes of Abra, is varied in scope and application.  In some areas, it covers all types of timber and non-timber species, including wild life.  In others, only premium species of timber and some species of flora and fauna are covered.  Still in other places, even fishing in the river at a given period is prohibited

Sometimes, special permits to cut timber are given to families who are constructing their houses but only on a limited scale.  This is properly and religiously monitored by the “sirip” or monitor.

The LAPAT system is governed by the Council of Lapat Holders.  The council is composed of elderly men who are either informally recognized or formally elected by the community folks as their leaders.  The council prescribes the regulations in the utilization of the natural resources and the commensurate sanctions and punishments for violations.

At present, almost all village-based LAPAT have written by-laws where these regulations are stipulated.  These by-laws are normally approved thru assemblies and rituals after going through thorough discussions.

The council officers serve for a definite period.

The future of LAPAT as a natural resource management system must be taken in the context of the broader policy environment of the country, hence, the need to look at pertinent laws and orders and other issuances relative to NRM.

The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines “mandates the State to recognize and respect the rights of the indigenous peoples to their ancestral domains and consider their customs, traditions and beliefs in the formulation of laws and policies”. This provision of the Constitution is being operationalized by the “Indigenous Peoples Rights Act” (IPRA) of 1997 (R.A. 8371).

In the CHARMP municipalities of Boliney, Bucloc and Sallapadan, their Municipal Councils (Sangguniang Bayan) already formally recognized and adopted their LAPAT Systems as their natural resource management system. In fact all of the reforestation projects of CHARMP-DENR in these municipalities have been formally integrated into the LAPAT System during the celebration of the “Festival of the Mountain” on April 22, 2002 in Bucloc, Abra where a grand BAGAWAS ritual was performed.

Because of the problem of food insecurity and to mitigate further intrusion into the protected forest areas, farmers started to develop their swiddens into agroforestry farms with assistance from CHARMP and the Provincial Government.

At present, some of the developed farms are now producing   vegetables and fruits like rambutan, banana and pineapple.

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