TIWI, Albay—“Siyempre, uyon kami sa programa kaini kan DA (Of course, we agree with this program of DA),” proclaimed 56-year-old fisherfolk Maria Salome Acid, an Agta-Tabangnon of Barangay Joroan when asked if they are in favor of the Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran ng Kababayang Katutubo or 4Ks.

Acid is one of the more than 60 participants who attended the coordination meeting with representatives of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Bicol and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) on March 3, 2021 at the Joroan Tribal Hall here. The meeting was also aimed at clustering the indigenous communities here. She was joined by the IPs of Sitio Tabgon, barangays Misibis and Mayong.

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 Indigenous Peoples (IPs) nationwide in coordination with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

During the coordination meeting, Erlinda Cerenio of Sitio Tabgon and the current t head of the Federation of Chieftains in Tiwi disclosed that their communities need a proper road network and that the Farm-to-Market (FMR) was left unfinished by the government. Thus, transportation and marketing of their produce are some of the challenges of their community, aside from the pandemic and typhoons that ravaged their abaca plantation.

NCIP Community Affairs Officer 1 Al Prince S. Rellon cited that there is an estimated 5,000 IPs in the Tiwi, Albay and mostly are abaca weavers, farmers and fisherfolks.

But with the pandemic and typhoons that destroyed their abaca plants, most of the community members preferred to be construction workers and white stone pickers.

Pregnant with her fourth child Jenelyn Dacuba, 30 said that their present source of income is gathering white stones in the seashores which is not sufficient to feed their family.

Dating para-abaca an agom ko kaso, naraot gabos kan bagyo kan nakaaging taon. Sa ngunyan, an agom ko, nagtitipon nin puting gapo na panglandscape. Kada lata, an bakal samo Php40.00. Sa duwang semana, nakakaduwang lata man sana kami.

IPs are considered among the least focused sector in the country and its development has long been on the sidelines making its people live in poverty.

Rellon cited that  Tiwi IPs own a total of 1453.8462 hectares of ancestral domain, however, majority of the area remain idle and unutilized because ot the IPs inability to develop it for livelihood, farming and financial resources.

DA Bicol 4Ks program staff Marion Noceda said that 4Ks Program only cater to organized groups, whether registered or unregistered, and whether holders or non-holders of Certificate of Ancestral Domains Title (CADT), Certificate of Ancestral Domains Claims (CADC) or Certificate of Land Owner Award (CLOA), provided that they are recognized by the NCIP as legitimate IP Organization.

DA Bicol Regional Director Rodel P. Tornilla said that through this program, the DA is supporting a different but more sustainable approach in addressing poverty by utilizing vast ancestral domains as potential food production areas.

Barangay Mayong IP Mandatory Representative Eva D. Dacuno cited that their communities are engaged in ginger and root crops production, abaca planting and weaving, fishing, poultry and livestock production.

She hoped that DA Bicol will include vegetable and root crops planting materials, native chicken, abaca plant rehabilitation, motorized boat and swine dispersal  in the series of interventions aligned for them.

Capping the one-day activity was the presentation and signing of Resolution No. 1 series of 2021 to give the IPs consent to the DA for the 4Ks program.

All the IPs present raised their hands, exclaimed “yes” to the program and affixed their signature in the resolution. The IPs in the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur are the identified beneficiaries of this program. (jaysonmgonzales)