STREAMLINING. National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) ethnographic commissioner for the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Region 1 Gaspar Cayat (left) on Wednesday (Oct. 5, 2022) said they are reviewing the possible streamlining of policies on the conduct of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) and Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP) to address the branding that they obstruct development. The FPIC is a specific right that allows IP groups to give or withhold consent to a project that may affect them or their territories. (Screenshot of the launching of the IP month celebration in Baguio)

BAGUIO CITY – The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) said it is now looking into a streamlining of policies on the conduct of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) and Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP) to address allegations of hindering development.

“We are streamlining because we saw in the commission that it is burdensome and tedious but we need to follow the policies on FPIC and IKSP," Gaspar Cayat, NCIP ethnographic commissioner for the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Ilocos Region, said in an interview Wednesday.

He said the focus of the streamlining by the commission together with the field offices is the time frame which is currently being looked into for the possibility to synchronize with the Energy Virtual One Stop Shop (EVOSS).

Makikita natin na may effort talaga ang (we can see the effort of the) Commission as a whole including the field offices to see to it that the FPIC guidelines will be in harmony with the EVOSS that provides 405 days processing of this kind of permit and the anti-red tape law that we should see to it na hindi ma-delay ng ma-delay yung proseso ng FPIC kaya we are reviewing it (we are reviewing to see to it that the FPIC process will not be delayed),” Cayat said.

He said developers, especially of energy projects aside from the knowledge researchers, complain about the process.

He said the NCIP serves as a bridge between an outsider and the Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICC) and the Indigenous Peoples (IP) and should not be seen as an obstructionist by concerned stakeholders, especially the partners for development and the ICCs and IP communities.

“There are two mountains with a river between them and people on one side cannot reach the other mountain without crossing the bridge that is in the middle. We want to see to it that the investor will cross the bridge before going to the communities because we don’t want that the communities will be abused so we have here the laws of the land and that is IPRA (Indigenous Peoples Rights Act) to protect the right of the people so we are acting as the bridge of the investor or outsider of the communities,” Cayat explained.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations defines FPIC as a specific right that allows IP groups to give or withhold consent to a project that may affect them or their territories.

Once they have given their consent, they can withdraw it at any stage. The FPIC enables them to negotiate the conditions under which the project will be designed, implemented, monitored, and evaluated.

Cayat called on the researchers to join the process to hopefully push forward the completion of the time frame issue.

“That is why we relay to them to write us so that the resolution of the issues will be fast-tracked and will be in keeping with the FPIC enhancement,” he added. (PNA)