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IPs: 'We need government’s help'

Ako Bikol Party-list leads Tarabangan Caravan for IPs in CamSur

While the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) represent nearly 14 per cent of the country’s populace, it is surprising to know that they remained grappling with the basic services all through these years, receiving less help from the society. They are still l considered the most disadvantaged sector despite the passing of many decrees that are meant to protect them.

Early this March, Ako Bicol Party-list Congressman Jil Bongalon led the team of “Tarabangan” Caravan that visited four (4) remote IP tribes in this city on May 11, Saturday to distribute hygiene kits and offer services from its various partners.

Ako Bicol Party-list Congressman Jil Bongalon with the IP chidren during the “Tarabangan” Caravan held March 11, 2023, Iriga City. (photo grab/ credits: AKB Rep JBongalon FB page)

“Ako Bikol Partylist is committed to support every sector, especially the Indigenous Peoples (IPs), one of the neglected sectors of the society. The most challenging na kinakaharap nila ngayon ay ang [kakulangan] ng ayuda at suporta from the government, that is why sila po inuna natin para malaman nilang may tulong na makukuha sa gobyerno.”

Bongalon admitted that IPs still lack access to basic services, particularly in terms of literacy, hygiene, health, access to clean and potable water, source of livelihood, recognition of their rights and even security from their ancestral domain.

“These needs are so evident in the IP communities, most especially that most of them live in the upper barangays. It is very important kasi kailangan po nating na tulungan ang mga IPs, first and foremost we have to protect their territorial rights, welfare and interest and we make sure, as representative of AKB and as a lawmaker na yon pong mga interest at karapatan ng mga IPs ay napo protektahan and they should be supported by the services of the government,” Bongalon added.

Stakeholders and partners with the IP children ||  Members of the media representing their respective stations / agencies take part in the Tarabangan Caravan spearheaded by AKB Party-List, in partnership with Iriga Mayor Rex Oliva (5th from right, in blue shirt) 

Michelle Rubio (far left in pink blazer) , a multi-awarded reading advocate and a teacher by profession at DepEd Sorsogon also joined the Tarabangan Caravan . She drives a  pink car which contains reading materials, audio and other visuals for reading intended for children.

Tarabangan Services with partners

Aside from the hygiene kits from Unisoft Hygienic Products, more than 2,000 IPs received a set of toothpaste and toothbrush from Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) Camarines Sur Chapter, and 2,000 bread loaves from Gardenia Bakeries Philippines, Inc. 

Recipients include Oyango tribe members from Brgy.Sta.Teresita, IPs of Rock Village residing at Brgy. Perpetual Help, Ilian tribe settled in Brgy.San Nicolas and Inorogan tribe in Brgy. Santo Domingo, all in Iriga City. 

The Department of Health (DOH) Camarines Sur representatives also taught the children the proper way of brushing their teeth.

One of the attractions of the caravan is the Pink Reading car driven all the way from Sorsogon by Michelle Rubio, a multi-awarded reading advocate and a teacher by profession at DepEd Sorsogon. The pink car contains reading materials, audio and other visuals for reading intended for children.

IP children receives their toothpaste and toothbrush as part of the services during the AKB Partylist Tarabangan Caravan held March 11, 2023 in Iriga CIty. (Photo credit/ photo grab| AKB Rep JBongalon)

AKB has also partnered with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) under their TUPAD or Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers program.  Bongalon said that DOLE committed to get IPs who will work for 10 days under the TUPAD program.

DOLE, under its TUPAD program offers emergency employment for displaced employees, underemployed individuals, and seasonal workers for a minimum of 10 days and a maximum of 30 days.

‘This land is ours’

This is the clamor of most of the IPs who are being used not only by heartless people, but also of various groups who are exploiting the IPs ignorance and vulnerability to grab their ancestral domains.

AKB Representative Bongalon said they are now looking for ways to solve this problem.

He said that the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Region V thru Regional Director Agosto B. Maglunsod recently inked a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).   

“With regards to the protection of ancestral domain, we have a new development kasi 3 days ago pinirmahan na po ng ating RD ng NCIP na si RD Augusto Manglungsod yng pong MOA with the IBP Cam Sur Chapter. Sila po ay I re representa ng mga abogado ng IBP CSur, libreng serbisyong legal ng mga abogado para po ipaglaban ang ano mang land dispute or claims na pwedeng ma comporomise ang mga ancesrtral domains kung saan dito ang nakatira ang mga IPs,” Bongalon said.

While he admitted that discrimination still exists, he assured the IPs that AKB is among the organizations, particularly here in Bicol that prioritizes programs that concerns their welfare. 

“Still discrimination exists, ito po ang ating ipinaglalaban and part ng information dissemination campaign [natin] that we have to respect the rights, the traditions, the culture and the practice of this IPS. Discrimination has no place here in our country kasi pare pareho tayong  mga Bikolano, mga Pilipino, we deserve all the support from the government so dapat walang discrimination na nangyayari,” the young lawmaker said.  (PIA5/Camarines Sur) 

About the Author

Ana-liza Macatangay

Regional Editor

Region 5

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