Saturday Dec, 07 2019 11:34:38 AM

Catamco wants RA 8731 as guide for rehab of tremor-hit IP enclaves 

GOVERNANCE/POLITICS • 14:30 PM Mon Nov 25, 2019
John M. Unson
Gov. Nancy Catamco talks to tribal leaders from earthquake-affected areas. (Contributed photo)

COTABATO CITY --- North Cotabato Gov. Nancy Catamco has asked indigenous communities not to move out of their earthquake-stricken ancestral lands to keep their entitlement to such domains.

Catamco said in an emailed statement Monday that declaring “no build zones” in ancestral lands of indigenous groups in the province has to be subjected to dialogues first among tribal chieftains and the provincial government.

Certain local executives and agencies earlier declared as “no build zones,” meaning no construction of new structures, in tribal enclaves in upland towns in North Cotabato province and in its capital, Kidapawan City, after strong episodes of earthquakes hit the province from between October 16 to middle of November.

Catamco, herself a member of North Cotabato’s Menuvu community, was out of office then owing to a three-month suspension by the Ombudsman in connection with a graft case filed while she was not in politics yet.

The first-termer Catamco, who reassumed as North Cotabato governor last Thursday, said sensitive matters pertaining to either relocation of indigenous people affected by earthquakes, or any ban on construction of shelters in their domains, has to be discussed first by tribal leaders and provincial officials in the context of the Republic Act 8731.

The RA 8731 is also known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act that guarantees government protection for the rights of non-Moro tribal communities in the country.

“There must be a process on how to do rehabilitation efforts for earthquake-affected communities in areas that we call ancestral lands,” Catamco said.

Hundreds of families from tribal settlements in different towns in North Cotabato and in Kidapawan City are now cramped in makeshift evacuation sites as a result of the earthquakes that repeatedly jolted the province in the past five weeks.


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