Conserved Territories & Areas Bill
“ Where there are forests, there are native peoples. Where there are native peoples, there are forests. No one knows better the ins and outs, the ups and downs of what nature gives and takes, than indigenous peoples. ”
Their knowledge of our terrains, from traditional knowledge systems, spiritual beliefs, cultural traditions and practices, built by centuries of existence, places them at the center — the caretakers, frontliners of nature. Their sacred spaces and ancestral domains have been identified, conserved, and managed sustainably since the beginning of time.
The passage of the Indigenous Communities Conserved Territories & Areas (ICCA) Bill means recognizing the Filipino indigenous people’s contribution to the conservation of our rich biodiversity and natural resources, and promoting community resilience, as they have done for generations.
This proposed bill gives life to our nation’s global commitment to fully recognize the effective conservation measures of indigenous peoples. It strengthens the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997 that mandates the government to fully assist our indigenous peoples in protecting and conserving their ancestral territories — especially their ICCAs.
It proposes our own national ICCA registry, creates a process of documentation, recognition, and inclusion of Indigenous Peoples’ rights in local government plans. It identifies penalties for prohibited acts within their territories, and ensures funds needed to manage them.
Most importantly, this bill recognizes and empowers Filipino indigenous peoples as the primary guardians of our country’s biodiversity — putting an end to the historical injustice and marginalization they continue to face.
Between 60-65% of the Philippines’ remaining natural forests are within ancestral domains — preventing floods, landslides, and other natural disasters. 75% of our country’s key biodiversity areas are within ancestral domains, serving as our first line of defense to the emergence of pandemics. About 90% of our watersheds are found within their sacred forests where 25 million Filipinos directly benefit from. Passing this bill means protecting the natural resources – taken care of by our indigenous peoples – that benefit us all.
As of today, two versions of the ICCA Bill have been filed in Congress, and one version filed in the Senate. All three have been pending since 2019 at the House Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples, and at the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities.