INDIGENOUS Cultural Communities (ICCs) representatives signed a commitment of support on Tuesday, Nov. 14, for the proposed establishment of the Mt. Apo Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center.
Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), Policy, Planning, and Projects Development Office (PPDO) Director Joey Remicilla said the support of ICCs is sought to strengthen the documents necessary for the establishment of the center.
“Kinahanglan gyud masulod sa balaod ang concern sa IP. This is the last piece of document that we need and once ma-complete na, mapadala na siya as supporting documents, hearings will be conducted, and ang Senado ug Kongreso na ang magpatawag sa ila,” Remicilla told media during the press conference.
Secretary Maria Belen Acosta of the MinDA recognized the commitment of ICCs is sought as they contribute to the shared responsibility. “They have certain cultures we also want to respect, so we have to find a way that the existing laws harmonize with them,” she added.
Two bills for the creation of the center were raised in the Congress and Senate. House Bill No. 7430 was filed by Cotabato Congressman Rudy Caogdan, and Senate Bill 2227 by Senator Cynthia Villar.
Launched in November 2022, the center seeks to conduct animal rescue, breeding and conservation, education and research, and eco-tourism.
The creation of the center is anchored to several existing laws including R.A. 9237 establishing the Mt. Apo Natural Park Protected Area, R.A. 7586 classifying Mt. Apo as a National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS), and R.A. 9147 of the Wildlife Resources Conservation Act.
MinDA has undergone consultations with local government units in regions 11 and 12 since its launch in 2022. Remicilla added the signing of the commitment will not only strengthen the legal mechanisms necessary for the center but will involve and prioritize the IP community in the creation.
Atty. Geroncio R. Aguio, National Commission Indigenous Peoples (NCIP XI) regional director, said the participation of the IP, especially those who live in the immediate vicinity of Mt. Apo, is vital to ensure the sustainability of the project.
“Consultation process with the ICC/IP ancestral domains is necessary in this endeavor, we thank the Minda and TWG, for ensuring that ICC will be engaged and that their voice will be heard in the proposed law,” Aguio said.
NCIP XI was joined by the Mt. Apo Natural Park Protected Area Superintendent (MANP PASu), MADADMA Ilomavis Council of Elders, IPs head of Unified Bagobo-Tagabawa of Davao City, Forest Guard (Bantay Bukid) representatives, and MinDA technical working group on a two-day consultation set from Nov. 14-15 in Seda Abreeza Hotel, Davao City.
The consultation will include discussions on caring for Mt. Apo’s wildlife to be tackled by the MANP Pasu, and a workshop on collaborative management in the Protection and Conservation of Mt. Apo Wildlife.
Philippine Eagle Foundation executive director Jayson Ibañez also discussed their advocacy and the vital role of ICCs in wildlife conservation.
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