General Santos: Blaan Leaders, Community Members Start Crafting GenSan’s Indigenous People’s Code

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General Santos City – Blaan leaders and community members of this town have started crafting the General Santos City Indigenous Peoples (IP) Code which generally aims to provide the basis for conscious and planned development for the IPs of this town and providing them the substantial opportunity of access to governmental resources for the same.

Specifically, the code aims to guide the city government, BLGUs, concerned line agencies, and non-governmental organizations in the planning and implementation of programs, to recognize the rights of the IPs to decide on their priorities for development, to respect the indigenous legal systems as a tool for dispute resolution, identification of the extent of ancestral domain, and to give the utmost regard and affirm the rights of the IPs to the proper management and use of their land and other resources.
Spearheaded by the City Mayor’s Office – Indigenous Cultural Communities Affairs Division (CMO-ICCAD), Office of the Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative (IPMR) Lucio Cawayan, Sr., and the Indigenous Political Structure (IPS), the IP code formulation was conducted at the Venue 88 Hotel and Convention Center in this city on October 4 to 6, 2021 is the first of the series of consultation-workshops.
 
The barangay tribal chieftains and barangay IPMRs of the 14 barangays joined the activity together with selected IP youth, women leaders, and professionals.
The formulation of the proposed legislation is being facilitated by former Sarangani Province IPMR, Fredo Basino, who authored the IP Code of Sarangani, the first in the country, and now serves as a reference in the IP code formulation of Gensan.
The components of the IP code include the rights and privileges of the IPs, Ancestral Domain, IP Governance, Education System, and Cultural Heritage.
Basino said the IP code is not only for the indigenous peoples but for the local government as well since the IPs are part of the government. He underscored the importance of the collaboration of the IPs and local government in addressing the issue of poverty in IP communities.
In his message during the workshop’s closing program, Gensan City Mayor Ronnel Rivera said the code will seal the aspirations of the IPs and will give direction and continuity to the programs for the IPs even when there will be a change of leadership in the city and the barangays.
He said that 80 percent of the relics and artifacts to be displayed in the city museum will come from the IP communities.
Fulong Dan Alim of Barangay Mabuhay said the development of the city and IP communities should go together.
He added that with the IP code, he sees light and it will establish a strong connection between the IPs and the agencies of the local government and national agencies.
City Tribal Chieftain lauded the city mayor for his support to the IPs of the city. “Kaning IP code, akong nakita nga dili lang kadaugan sa isa kudo kadaugan sa tanan (I see this IP code as victory not only of one person but of all),” he said.
Lucio Cawayan Sr., Gensan City’s IPMR expressed gratitude to Basino for sharing his time and expertise in facilitating the crafting of the code. He also thanked the IP tribal chieftains and sectoral leaders for their participation and inputs.
Jocelyn Lambac-Kanda, CMO-ICCAD Division Head, said the code realizes the dreams of the IPs in Gensan. She related how CMO-ICCAD, the division in charge of the concerns and development of IPs of the city, slowly progressed, which now has five IP staff. The Code shall be the means to alleviate the condition of the IP in General Santos City. Sectoral consultations and lobbying are set to be conducted after the workshop.
It is hoped that the Code will be presented to the Sangguniang Panlungsod members for the first reading by December 2021. (CPIO/JLK/RSC)
(Source: LGU GenSan Facebook page, photo courtesy by Mark Lu)

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