Native son in Malacañang
President Fidel V. Ramos, wearing the headgear of an honorary tribal leader, joined by congressional leaders and members of indigenous communities after he signed into law (R.A. 8371), a bill empowering the cultural communities in the country.
The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act or IPRA (RA 8371)
The IPRA also known as the Ancestral Domains Law recognizes, protects and promotes the rights of indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples. It is the first law on ancestral domains in the world. Among the rights recognized under the IPRA, in addition to communally owning the lands they occupy, are the following: to remain in their ancestral domains; to be compensated justly and resettled in case of displacement; to enjoy safe and clean air and water; to uphold tribal laws and traditions, including implementation of their own judicial system; to transfer land/property to other members of their community in accordance with their tribal laws; to enjoy the fruits of their communal lands; to exercise self-governance; to be protected in their community and intellectual property; to practice their own religion and ceremonies; to acquire, practice, and preserve indigenous knowledge systems; to enjoy equal rights for indigenous women and children as similarly enjoyed by other Filipinos; and, to have access to basic services and opportunities to improve their lives.
These rights, however, have corresponding responsibilities for the indigenous peoples, including the maintenance of the ecological balance and restoration of denuded areas within the ancestral domain. The IPRA also created the National Commission on Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples, mandated to protect and promote the interests and wellbeing of the ICCs/IPs, and it is composed of seven commissioners belonging to ICCs/IPs appointed by the President of the Philippines.
IPRA was principally authored by Sen. Juan Flavier, Rep. Gregorio Andolana and Rep. Jeremias Zapata, and enacted into law on October 29, 1997.