Joel Quiño, Kalahi-CIDSS Area Coordinator of Monkayo discusses Kalahi-CIDSS with IP Representatives.

Davao City – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) joins other line agencies in empowering some 150 Indigenous People Mandatory Representatives (IPMRs) from different regions in Mindanao through the recent 1st Higher Ground, Longer Vision – Federating Mindanao Lumad Legislators Seminar at Waterfront Hotel.

Headed by the Executive Director of Mindanawon Initiatives for Cultural Dialogue, Albert E. Alejo, S.J, this activity was conducted in coordination with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP).

“In partnership with National Government Agencies, our goal is to train IP leaders for greater effectivity and to form a federation of Mindanao Lumad Legislators,” said Alan S. Cajes, Vice-President and Managing Director for DAP.

Boosting IP participation

To date, there is a total of 30,709 beneficiaries from Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, 51,595 participants in Kalahi-CIDSS (Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services), and 17,639 from Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), the three core programs of DSWD.

Audrie B. Perez, IP Focal for Pantawid Pamilya emphasized the importance of providing correct and relevant information to boost participation from the IPs.

“Some of the participants here are DSWD beneficiaries. We want to break the barriers that hinder our IPs, particularly those in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA), from enjoying the full benefits of what the agency can give them,” Perez said.

Along with Perez, Kalahi-CIDSS Monkayo Area Coordinator Joel B. Quiño and Anna Maria B. Raymundo of SLP-DSWD Cental Office also discussed the other core programs of DSWD.

In an interview, Alejo shared how indigenous communities are confronted with complex challenges such as discrimination and exclusion.

He emphasized, “This event is formed so that IPs will have a say in the conduct of development in their community. The government must accompany our IP brothers and sisters in their struggle to self-determination.”

Quiňo said the activity enhances the leadership traits of IPs in DSWD targeted communities. This creates a huge space of opportunity for them to learn and engage with different agencies.

IP volunteer of Kalahi-CIDSS from Monkayo, Compostela Valley Honorio M. Erica, 62, expressed his appreciation on the effort of DSWD and its partner agencies for the continuous support in promoting and protecting the rights of the IPs.

Erica added, “Nagpasalamat mi sa tabang sa gobyerno. Tungod sa ilaha, nagkahiusa ang mga lumad ug daghan nakat-on sa mga proyektong ilang gipatuman (We thank the government for the help which made the IPs united. We have learned so much from the projects implemented).”

In 2012, Alejo together with NCIP and DAP, started to conduct trainings for IPs dubbed SALIG LUMAD – Strengthening Advocacy of Lumads in Government, an advocacy that strengthens the capacity of IPMRs in Region XI on local legislative council.

The Department of Health (DOH), Department of Education (DepEd), Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Mindanao Development Authority (MINDA), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are also involved in this development. DSWD