The Nagkakaisang Tribu ng Palawan (NATRIPAL) or the United Tribes of Palawan, is an indigenous peoples organization federated by 57 local associations spread across the island of Palawan (Philippines), consisting of three indigenous groups, namely: the Tagbanua, the Pala’wan and the Batak. The federation was formed in 1989 and was formally registered with the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission on February 4, 1991 as a non-stock, non-profit, non-sectarian organization.
After more than a decade now, the gradual empowerment of the indigenous peoples is among the modest tangible achievement of NATRIPAL. This is evident by its capability to implement satisfactory programs in the midst of tremendous political and commercial challenges that confront the organisation and we are proud now to say that the organisational management of NATRIPAL taken care of by the indigenous peoples ourselves.
The chief mission of our organisation is to gain recognition for the rights of the indigenous peoples over their ancestral domains and lands. This mission is seen inextricably linked to liberation from poverty and powerlessness and the denial of the rights over our territories obstructs the distinct manner of life.
NATRIPAL envisions a future where the tribes of Tagbanua, Pala’wan and Bataks are recognized as important sectors of the society, with strong unity among their local associations with strong unified voice regarding issues and concerns of the indigenous people, free in decision-making and a partner in planning and working towards sustainable development.
NATRIPAL has the obligation to:
- analyze and choose programs and project for common good of indigenous people
- initiate development of leadership in the federation among indigenous staff, with adequate and – appropriate skills and dedication.
- support dissemination of knowledge, skills and values pertaining to human rights.
- promote care for the environment, proper and efficient use of natural resources within ancestral domain.
- Aid its members to establish, manage, maintain and operate adequate livelihood facilities and service pursuant to the objectives of the association
- Assist in the formulation and implementation of government programs with the and in view of hastening rural development.
- Encourage the effective utilization of local resources for livelihood activities
- Develop awareness, values and attitudes and harness the participation of its members in every activity towards the development of the community
- Accept donation, acquire properties, obtain loan from the government through is various lending institution and from private financing institution in order to attain the objective of the association
The four primary concerns of NATRIPAL in Palawan are:
- Resource management
Historically, the indigenous people have been the victims of exploitation at the hands of land grabbers who, with the help of some corrupt politicians, have gained from their suffering. It remains a paradox that though indigenous peoples are known to be responsible for the conservation of forests today, it is the newcomers who benefit from their efforts. In this field, NATRIPAL, with their legal expertise and advocacy, works on assisting organized communities in the development of comprehensive management plans to ensure balanced utilization of resources within ancestral domain areas.
- Security and land rights;
The promotion and consequent recognition of indigenous people’s rights
This essential aspect of NATRIPAL’s work is hindered by the lack of awareness and education among indigenous communities, which prevents them from claiming their legitimate due. Simultaneously, the non-indigenous peoples are brought up and educated to believe that indigenous communities have no rights to their lands and that they are only a burden to the State.
- Development of income-generating enterprise,
Considering that the indigenous communities are also at the lower rungs of the social and economic ladder, NATRIPAL believes that it is necessary to augment indigenous peoples living standards to enhance their self-esteem. To achieve this condition, NATRIPAL has explored a few economic endeavours, mostly based on NTFPs, which can be exploited. This effort will help set them on foot with the rest of the society.
- Environmental protection
As most of the indigenous peoples in the Philippines depend on the resources procured from the forest and the sea, it is important that these resources are used in a sustainable manner. The regulated utilisation of resources and an equal access to them for the people most dependent upon them are crucial challenges, which NATRIPAL has undertaken.
NATRIPAL works with indigenous communities towards the recognition of their rights, livelihoods and customs within the over-all framework of conserving Palawan’s forests and its natural resources. The federation runs programs involving land rights, natural resource management, enterprise development, health, community organizing and on the late part of the decade works with mining advocacy since most mining areas are homeland of indigenous people. Among other accomplishments, NATRIPAL has succesfully assisted 13 local partners in the issuance of titles or claims to their ancestral domains and is currently helping out 9 local partners for securing similar claims. It had been (and is) involved in the establishment of sustainable livelihood enterprises based on the collecting of wild Apis dorsata honey and on high-quality crafts made of rattan and other forest materials. Meanwhile, the gradual empowerment of the joint indigenous peoples of Palawan is perhaps the single most significant achievement of NATRIPAL.
NATRIPAL has been fruitful in assisting indigenous peoples to secure five Certificates of Ancestral Domain Claim (CADCs) and eight Certificates of Ancestral Land Claims (CALCs) with equitable management plans for each area. These two interests have involved NATRIPAL in a whole range of activities.
With regard to the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) we’re assisting nine communities now, but at different stages of progress that we also attribute to lack of financial support. Apart from these, 2 were declared as certified claims by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); however, certain legal and political snags have prevented them from coming through.
Management plans are prepared for sites of ancestral lands and domains through the use of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) technique, through which various details are documented. The details include the system used by the indigenous communities in managing their natural resources that are within their ancestral domain. Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP) also outline the policies prevalent in the community to manage these resources, as well as the people’s customary beliefs and practices.
Other achievements of NATRIPAL include:
- Successful policing of the ancestral domains and preventing the illegal smuggling of forest products;
- Promoting community run trading operations instead of non-indigenous businessmen who have controlled trade in these areas;
- Encouraging indigenous peoples to manage other activities that pertain to the trade in Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs), especially the transport of goods to trading centres;
- Ensuring that the policies formulated in the Ancestral Domain Management Plans (ADMPs) are followed by all the communities involved;
- Getting government departments to recognise the traditional leaders by having the councils accepted by the National Council of Indigenous Peoples;
- Building a thorough rapport with the indigenous communities that NATRIPAL is working with;
- Building a strong network with the NGO communities working in the Philippines as well as in South and Southeast Asia in order to learn from their experiences;
- Keeping abreast with the developments in the extraction and sustainable trade in NTFPs in order to help the indigenous communities benefit from the natural resources;
- Conducting workshops and meetings to raise the awareness of the indigenous peoples in the field of human rights, indigenous rights, etc., so that they are able to claim what is legitimately due to them;
- Documentation of indigenous knowledge systems through PRAs and;
- Conducting research on alternative forms of livelihood for indigenous peoples that would help them raise their income.
As the largest and oldest indigenous formation on the island, NATRIPAL has ongoing collaborations with the following organizations:
- Katutubong Samahan sa Pilipinas, Inc. (KASAPI) – the Philippine national coalition of IPs
- Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) a law governing body in the island that formulates plans and strategies towards sustainable development in the province.
- National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) – the primary government agency that formulates and implements policies, plans and programs for the recognition, promotion and protection of the rights and well-being of indigenous peoples and the recognition of their ancestral domains and their rights.
- Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples (ECIP) – the service apostolate of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines for the indigenous peoples
- Non-Timber Forest Products-Exchange Programme and Task Force (NTFP-EP / TF) – a collaborative network of NGOs and indigenous organizations, working towards the sustainable use and management of forest resources. NATRIPAL is a founding partner of NTFP-EP.
- Legal Assistance Center for Indigenous Filipinos (PANLIPI) – an organization of lawyers and IP advocates
- Palawan NGO Network, Inc. (PNNI) – a province wide network using their various competencies & programs to act as one voice in influencing and guiding sustainable development in Palawan
- Anthropology Watch (AnthroWatch) – a Manila-based group of concerned anthropologists, is leading a major forest corridor conservation effort.