The governor of Negros Oriental asked some 60 tribal chieftains of indigenous peoples (IPs) to support and cooperate in addressing peace and order in the communities. 

In a forum for the observance of National Indigenous Month, Gov. Roel Degamo said that in support for the IP sector, there will be a representation in the local council for the promotion of their rights. 

Degamo also requested the natives to assist the military in peacekeeping in their respective communities to make Negros Oriental insurgency-free. 

The 302 Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army with the provincial government of Negros Oriental, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) initiated the forum to orient the IPs on the implementation of the new mining Executive Order 79. 

The EO reiterates the state policy on the recognition of IP rights and the NCIP has drafted and issued its revised guidelines for the free, prior, and informed consent process. 

NCIP, DSWD and the DENR are directed to ensure that social preparation for IPs to be affected by mining will be conducted. 

In his briefing, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (Penro) Oscar Magallones said EO 79 imposes stricter measures to ensure responsible mining and environmental protection as well as seeking higher revenue sharing scheme for the government through legislation. 

Magallones cited, on the same EO, President Aquino closed mining applications in restricted areas such as in the protected areas, tourism development sites, prime agricultural lands, and other critical areas, like watershed for irrigation and hydro plants. 

“The basic purpose of this EO is to mitigate negative impact of our environment,” said Magallones. 

The Penro identified three large scales mining in Negros Oriental located in the municipalities of Ayungon, Basay, and Tayasan, including with some small scales mining operating in the province. 

This month’s celebration anchors ton he 15th year anniversary of RA 8371 known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act with the theme “IPRA ay Gabay sa Kaunlaran. Isaisip, Ipabatid at Isakatuparan.” (mbcn/JCT-PIA7, Negros Oriental)