(File photo courtesy of City Government of Davao)

MANILA – The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) will join forces with the Department of Health to address vaccine hesitancy in IP communities.

Pablito Gonzales of the National Committee on Central Cultural Communities (NCCC) said during Monday’s Laging Handa public briefing that some IP members have the notion that getting the Covid-19 vaccine runs in contrast with their culture and spirituality.

The NCCC is an advisory board under the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

Gonzales said despite the situation, the government is doing its best in educating IP communities through information drives.

Alam po natin, sabi ng mga Indigenous Peoples, mayroon kami actually kultura, mayroon kaming practice since time immemorial na marami namang sakuna, maraming pandemya ang dumating, walang nangyari sa amin (We know that there is a belief among the Indigenous Peoples. We actually have a culture, we have a practice since time immemorial that many disasters, many pandemics have come, but nothing happened to us),” Gonzales said.

Gonzales said based on estimates, between 40 percent and 50 percent of IPs nationwide have received the Covid-19 jabs.

Human rights group International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs said the Philippines’ IP population remains unknown, except that there are approximately 10 percent to 20 percent of them from among the total 110 million Filipinos.

In October last year, NCIP medical officer Dr. Angelica Cachola said 1,072,452 IPs have availed of the vaccine.

Meanwhile, Gonzales enjoined support for the National Indigenous Peoples Month, as per Presidential Proclamation 1906, series of 2009, declaring October yearly as the time to recognize the rights of indigenous cultural communities and IPs. (PNA)