A Catholic bishop called on the government this week to pay more attention to legitimate ancestral land claims by Indigenous Peoples in the country.
“Many indigenous groups still do not have their [Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title] and are still struggling,” CBCP News quoted Bishop Valentine Dimoc, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples of the bishops’ conference.
The prelate said ancestral domain issues remain among the major challenges that tribal communities face.
“Sometimes, there is no [National Commission on Indigenous Peoples] to help them,” said the bishop.
The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) is a government agency responsible for protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples in the country. It is composed of seven commissioners and is an attached agency to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Bishop Dimoc was speaking during the national celebration of the 45th Indigenous Peoples’ Sunday in Upper Sirib in the southern Philippine city of Davao’s Calinan district on October 9.
Speaking to the Bagobo-Klata tribe, the prelate said they are “blessed” to have an NCIP that cares for them.
“I’m sure that your NCIP here, along with your government, your Church and other organizations are biddable, merciful, and loving that they worked for and helped you to have your [land title],” said Bishop Dimoc.
This year’s national celebration of the Indigenous People’s Sunday was hosted by the Archdiocese of Davao.