The Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) entered into a partnership with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) through the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on March 16, 2022 at the IBP Building. During the initial meeting between the parties, it was discussed that the identified Indigenous Peoples (IP) Communities do not have ready and marketable products in commercial grade and quantity and there are no available aggregators with appropriate storage facilities near the IP communities. Likewise, IPs continue to struggle to bring about economic development within their ancestral domains despite all the resources available to them. Hence, in assistance to the IPs, CDA agreed to help the Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs)/lPs in the organization and registration of their cooperatives, and in fostering the growth of ICC/IP cooperatives in the different regions. For their part, IBP agreed to provide legal assistance to identified ICCs/IPs in organizing and registering their cooperatives while NCIP agreed to provide enabling assistance and favorable atmosphere for the actualization of Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) to ensure the sustainable growth and development of ICC/IP cooperatives nationwide.
The partnership objectives are the following: a) provide IP Communities with an organization with a recognized juridical personality to deal with the government, the private sector, and financial institutions in accordance with their customary laws and traditions; b) educate IP communities about the advantages of entrepreneurship; c) capacitate IP communities to access financial assistance and loan accommodations in order to fund its development projects; d) identify marketplace access to IP Communities for their indigenous and local products; e) institutionalize this project as part of the IBP Legal Aid Program (“Program”); and f) maintain and improve IBP’s socio-cultural relevance through the proper optimization of the “Rule of Law”. – Ricky Rebello, CPDAD