A Legal Research by Joan Paglinawan Libarios on the Taguibo Watershed Issue: Scope and Limitation of Priority Right in the Indigenous Peoples Right Act (IPRA) and the Government’s Power in Protecting the Environment
“You ask if we own the land. . . How can you own that which will outlive you? Only the race own the land because only the race lives forever. To claim a piece of land is a birthright of every man. The lowly animals claim their place; how much more man? Man is born to live. Apu Kabunian, lord of us all, gave us life and placed us in the world to live human lives. And where shall we obtain life? From the land. To work (the land) is an obligation, not merely a right. In tilling the land, you possess it. And so land is a grace that must be nurtured. To enrich it and make it fructify is the eternal exhortation of Apu Kabunian to all his children. Land is sacred. Land is beloved. From its womb springs …life.”1 Macli-ing Dulag Chieftain of the Kalinga Tribe
Quoted in Ponciano L. Bennagen, "Tribal Filipinos" in Indigenous View of Land and the Environment, ed. Shelton H. Davis, the World Bank Discussion Papers, No. 188, pp. 71-72.
PROBLEMS AND OUTLINE
A study on the parameters of the Priority Right in the Indigenous Peoples Right Act (IPRA) and the government’s power in protecting the environment in relation to the Taguibo watershed issue encompasses two controversial spheres—the centuries old struggle of the indigenous peoples to rights recognition and the unending controversies of the government’s roles in the firm implementation of its powers in protecting the environment. Safely stated, the latter concerns the authority of the State or its scope of jurisdiction over issues concerning the protection, utilization and rehabilitation of the environment for the present generation and the next yet to come.
Protecting the environment has always been a serious issue for the government. As the country’s technological, ecological and industrial development progresses, protecting the environment also became an increasing problem.
A number of laws were created and implemented for the protection of the environment. Lands were classified and among these were reserved for specific purposes and for future use.
However, challenges of the modern time together with the socio-cultural and political demands produced factors of consideration and matters of consequences that placed environmental protection in a very challenging ground.
Economic development is the leading factor in this “dilemma.”
countries like the Philippines tend to “compromise” its natural resources for the gratification of other big nations’, if not the country’s, economic development. At the same time, encompasses the indigenous peoples’ land including their basic rights. It is a point where legislative enactments tend to be a mere paradox of their intent to protect and upheld.
3 In a big picture, and placing all issues in one platter, the present situation produces a tough competition among three basic constitutional mandates: Balance and Healthful Economy; Social Justice and Human Rights; and National Economy. This is a reality, often miscalculated, that requires every nation to ponder and to reconcile to enable to comprehend the real issues in every controversy.
In the issue of the Taguibo Watershed, this research study attempts to scrutinize the fundamental principles and ideologies of the three basic constitutional mandates stated above in relation to the Indigenous Peoples Right Act or IPRA in parallel with the government’s role in protecting the subject watershed.
Specifically, this involves the issues on: indigenous peoples’ priority rights; and the roles of the national and local government units in protecting and ensuring protected areas like the watershed as our intergenerational responsibility.
To understand these issues, it is necessary to revisit a...