“Indigenous peoples (IPs) in South Cotabato are more empowered today compared to five (5) years ago,” Tribal Leader Henry Malida said during the Kapihan sa Kapitolyo media forum via Virtual Zoom Application held recently and sponsored by the PGO – Information Division.
Malida, Legislative Researcher of Board Member Edgar Sambog, South Cotabato’s Indigenous People Mandatory Representative, discussed why IPs are now empowered based on the aspect of Livelihood, Employment, Health, EInsurgency, nvironment, and Governance.
In terms of Livelihood, Malida pointed out, that traditional weaving practices have now transformed with the adoption of IPs to modern technology and equipment that was introduced to them which in the end, improved productivity that resuled to increase in income.
He added that in the aspect of Employment, many IPs are now employed in government especially in DepED where IP teachers are assigned in schools located in IP communities. But he noted that there are no IP lawyers or doctors yet, except Dr. Salvecio Dagang of Tboli.
Many IPs do not make use of birthing facilities because of tradition and cu;lture, Malida revealed in terms of health aspect, but was quick to add that many of them now are patronizing these facilities since they were educated about the risks and safety about pregnancy and delivery.
As far as Insurgency problem is concern, Malida stressed that since the government’s Eliminate Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) Program is chaired by the National Commissioned for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), many IP renels returned to the fold of the law. The surrenderess availed of livelihood, education, training and other assistance from both local and national governments.
In the controversial Environment concerns, IPs are now well-informed about the issues and concerns where they were told to make use of the rich natural resources of their respective community but were still cautioned to protect and conserve the environment, Malida said.
Malida likewise expressed satisfaction in terms of Governance since IPs are now empowered with the Institutionalization of IPMR in the legislative branch of government. Many IPs were likewise, elected, Malida stated, as Mayors, Vice-Mayors, Councilors and Board Members as well as employed in different departments of LGUs.
October is celebrated annually as Indigenous Peoples Month and the South Cotabato IPs will hold a Provincial IP Day Summit on October 27 – 28 at Matutum Bloom in the municipality of Tupi.