Remoteness, continuing discrimination, and lack of infrastructure and poor access to public services, such as health, water, and sanitation, have aggravated the situation of Indigenous Peoples (IP) even before the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said on Tuesday.
To mark the International Day of the World’s IPs, Lacson assured the IPs that his government would promote their rights and well-being, particularly their access to health care services.
A local report showed there are 308,272 IPs in Negros Occidental.
“We commemorate the International Day of the World’s IPs and celebrate their communities, their knowledge, contributions to society, and most of all, to promote and protect their rights,” Lacson said during the 1st Provincial IPs Assembly held at the Manuel Y. Torres Memorial Coliseum and Cultural Center here.
He emphasized the need to address these important concerns and recognize and promote the rights and the multi-dimensional well-being of the IPs.
“We have to ensure that our IPs are not left behind, and should be able to participate on all matters affecting them,” he added.
Executive Assistant to the Governor Marie June Pavillar-Castro said under its gender and development budget for 2022, the province has allocated PHP3 million for the Support to the IPs program being implemented by the Provincial Health Office.
“For several years now, the province supports the medical and dental missions for the IPs. These missions were not held during the pandemic, but medicines and vitamins were still being purchased and distributed to the different IP areas,” she said.
Pavillar-Castro said the province also assisted in the IPs consultation and planning for health programs last year, and some of these are being implemented this year.
Of the 308,272 IPs in Negros Occidental, 303,660 are considered Christianized or civilized.
Those who attended the observance of the International Day of the World’s IPs were IP groups from Kabankalan City and the municipalities of Isabela, Binalbagan, Ilog, Cauayan, and Hinoba-an. (PNA)