Access to Land by Indigenous Peoples in Malita Davao: Using Ethnographic Methods to Inform Policy Makers

AUTHOR/S: Maricel Hilario-Patiño, Rosalinda C. Tomas


KEYWORDS: ancestral domain, development, indigenous peoples, governance, land access


              Ancestral domain recognition has been provided to indigenous peoples in the Philippines with the passage of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) and the provision of a legal instrument through the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT). This case study in a CADT area in Davao Occidental looked at the land access issue and associated concerns, including the CADT process and ancestral domain governance. Results were provided as input to the goal of the DSWD-initiated National Community Driven Development Program (NCDDP) to reduce poverty through improvements in programs and basic services for IP communities.

              Despite the CADT issuance, the case study showed that the IPs’ ownership of their land is still weak in the face of other land claims and economic needs that lead them to exchange their land rights.  Moreover, final issuance of an official title to the IPs has not been completed because of conflicts in state land policies resulting to overlapping claims within the ancestral domain. On governance, while traditional governance structure and functions are still maintained and respected, processes like dispute settlement have been interphased with current local governance systems and processes. Also, the absence of a formal CADT organization has made traditional leaders prey to partisan patronage politics supporting the interest of the politically dominant in the governance mechanisms. Finally, the CADT has not facilitated better development programs and services for IPs as they continue to suffer from critical neglect keeping them in a vulnerable situation. Recommendations include prioritization of sitio level project implementation especially improvement of basic services and livelihood; legal support and training; review of FPIC process; exploring other forms of land tenure in ancestral domains; and strengthening convergence of programs and services in IP areas.

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