SAN PEDRO, Iriga City—A resounding “Iyo (yes)” and applause from the 28 Agta Tabangnon filled the San Pedro Tribal Hall here when asked of their commitment and interest to the Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran ng Kababayang Katutubo (4Ks) program of the Department of Agriculture-Bicol in coordination with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) during the Indigenous Cultural Community/Indigenous Peoples (ICC/IP) Assessment and Site Validation held on March 17, 2021.

4Ks is a special program developed by the DA which is to promote an enhanced provision of agricultural and fisheries related livelihood, investments and services to the IPs because they are the least attended sector in the country. IPs live in poverty because their area is unutilized and undeveloped.

During the coordination meeting, Tribal Chieftain Margarita B. Cabria disclosed that her community is engaged in farming. Since their area is sloping and in high terrain, farm machineries are not viable and deemed useless. She suggested that a plough and carabao be given to them instead. Also, since they are corn farmers, a corn-sheller machine will be helpful to them.

Cabria added that their Tadium Tribal Farmers Association is still unregistered and that only a few have enrolled in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA).

NCIP-Buhi Service Center OIC Engr. Andrea M. Villegas cited that generally, the main sources of livelihood of the IPs in Iriga City are corn, root crops, vegetables, coconut, banana and adlai.

The IPs here in Iriga City own more than 2,493 hectares of ancestral domain.

DA Bicol 4Ks program staff Angela Mae Oblinda said that 4Ks Program only caters to organized groups, whether registered or unregistered, and holders of Certificate of Ancestral Domains Title (CADT) or Certificate of Ancestral Domains Claims (CADC), provided that they are recognized by the NCIP as legitimate IP Organization. The IPs should be residents and are staying in their ancestral domain.

However, in case they are not yet organized or registered as in the case of San Pedro IPs, the area coordinator will assist them to get organized and registered.

DA Bicol Regional Director Rodel P. Tornilla said that this new program will pursue investments and opportunities for IPs by utilizing vast ancestral domains as potential food production areas.

The highlight of the one-day activity was the presentation and signing of Resolution No. 1 series of 2021 which formalizes their consent and agreement with the DA for the program. The IPs in the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur are the identified beneficiaries of this program. (jaysonmgonzales)