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Vice President Leni Robredo urged the review of Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 to further empower indigenous peoples (IP) or “lumads.”

Robredo, who was for the National IP Education Festival held at the Pamulaan Center for IP Education at the University of Southeastern Philippines (– USEP), also said the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) must be further strengthened.

“We are pushing for more participation of the members of the IP communities so their voices can be heard,” Robredo told reporters in Filipino.

Robredo cited the “absence of a law giving IPs the mandate to actively participate in local development councils, local legislative councils and sectoral groups.”

She said there is only a department order, which was issued by her late husband, Local Government Secretary Jessie Robredo, that gives IPs a seat in local legislative councils.

“I think this is not enough. If it is only a department order, this can be amended anytime if there is a change in administration,” she explained.

Robredo said there should be law mandating such positions in line with efforts to empower them.

The vice president also stressed that IPs need help in terms of access to education, which is crucial for them to effectively participate in decision-making on matters that affect them. (LCM/PNA)

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