“I stood and spoke today in awe, I stand where a parcel of history is about to be rewritten. I look at the elders of my hometown and i felt proud. The sense of expectation on the air is still defiant, doubtful even, yet true to the core of an indigenous, hopeful. 60 years history of wrong and hurt.
When Binga and Ambuklao Dams were constructed in the 1950s, the Indigenous communities were unceremoniously displaced. Some people were sent to strange lands, as far as Palawan and many perished due to malaria. Some returned and occupied the periphery of the dams. Yet the fight for fair recompense, the recognition of right as lawful owners, the right for fair and equitable share in the utilization of their natural resources, never stopped. The communities that help ushered industrialization while forsaken, never forgot.
The Indigenous Peoples Righst Act was conceived to correct historical injustices. This is the principle NCIP is meant to stand for.
Today, both Ambuklao and Binga, some of the largest Hydropower operations in the country, providing the nation electricity since 1960s will undergo the Free Prior and Informed Consent process. The concessionaire will ask the community consent for the projects, and they will present proposal for the royalty shares, projects, and other economic benefits accruing to the people of Bokod and Itogon Ancestral Domains. The council of elders of the domains themselves will negotiate on equal terms and footing. I have no doubt that our elders’ wisdom and experience will bring us to decision fair and just.
This is not possible without the inspiring leadership of the NCIP through Apo Allen Capuyan and Apo Gary Cayat and the rest of its commissioners, the commitment and beyond service of the NCIP-CAR personnel. NCIP-CAR, we march aloud.
Benguet, rose of the northern mountains, better times ahead. Your children will make sure of that.
And for Mama, and Country, i hope i did you both proud.”
Atty. Marlon P. Bosantog
NCIP-CAR Regional Director
NTF-ELCAC Spokesperson for Legal Affairs and Indigenous Peoples Concerns