JPE assails NCIP for ‘abuse of power’

August 17, 2020

I AM reprinting below an article posted by the venerable former Senate President and the country’s only remaining statesman of note, Juan Ponce Enrile on his social media account (yes dear readers, JPE has an active FB account).

In particular, Manong Johnny is calling public attention to the ‘abuse of power’ of the “chief of staff” of National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) chairman, Allen Capuyan.

As NCIP chair, Capuyan, “mistah” of our good friend, DILG secretary, Eduardo Año (and here’s hoping you recover again from your second contact with COVID-19), should have been at the forefront in the promotion of what is good and best for our “IPs” (indigenous people).

But as there is no reason to doubt Manong Johnny’s narrative, this is not the case. Capuyan, it seems, is just another bureaucrat protective of his abusive subordinates.

As Manong Johnny’s post is quite long, we’ll try to “abridge” it without affecting his message. Here’s hoping yours truly succeeds. Here it goes:

“I was utterly upset when I learned what the Chief of Staff of Chairman Allan Capuyan of the National Commission for Indigenous People (NCIP) did to a lady lawyer who, upon my advice, brought to Malacañang the plight and grievance of a foreign investor who was a victim of unusual red tapes, delays, and machinations by the NCIP.

“It seems that when the NCIP learned that the lady lawyer succeeded in bringing the ordeal of her client to the attention of the Palace, the NCIP officials reacted angrily.

“So angry were they that the Chief of Staff of Chairman Allan Capuyan rudely and blatantly berated the lady lawyer through a phone call.

“Evidently, what the Chief of Staff of Chairman Capuyan did was a clear and grave disservice to the Palace, to the Governor and people of Palawan, and to the prestige, honor, economic well-being, and progress of the country.

“It was a crude abuse of power by little people in government.

“What made the NCIP officials so angry? Were they hiding something so badly that they did not want the Palace to know…

“… To be candid about it, I am truly puzzled and pissed off by the furious, ugly, and arrogant behavior of the NCIP officials. I had been in government service myself for over half a century, and, during all that time, I had never heard nor encountered any such haughty behavior of government officials.

It appears that in 2015 the Palawan Provincial Government and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) invited a foreign investor - a well-known company using modern farming methods and fast-growing and high-yielding variety of coconut seedlings - to develop a coconut plantation in Palawan.

“The foreign investor accepted the invitation and agreed to invest in the country.

The site of the investment was an ancestral land of a tribal community in the town of Rizal in Palawan province.

“Because of that, the foreign investor sought the assistance and approval of the NCIP. And the NCIP required the foreign investor to secure the Free Prior and Informed Consent

(FPIC) of the members of the concerned tribal community where the investment would be done.

“The foreign investor dutifully complied with the required FPIC, which was accomplished under the strict supervision and guidance of the NCIP…

“… Then suddenly, without any notice to anyone, the NCIP arbitrarily suspended the CP of the foreign investor. The suspension was contained in a Resolution No. 7-01-2017 dated January 10, 2017. But, surprisingly the resolution was only sent to and received by the foreign investor on May 23, 2017.

“It took the NCIP more than four months to provide the foreign investor with the adverse resolution. Thus, the ordeal of the foreign investor began…

“… Then a new chairman, Allen Capuyan, was appointed for the NCIP, in lieu of the former Leonor Oralde-Quintayo, who was removed for alleged corruption.

“This gave a new  ray of hope for the desperate foreign investor who immediately approached the new NCIP chairman for help.

“As a result of this new approach, a Field Based Investigation was ordered to be conducted. The Field Based Investigation report recommended that a Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) be conducted once more among the members of the concerned tribal community.

“The hapless foreign investor agreed and provided the money needed for the repeat FPIC process. But as time went by, nothing happened in the repeat FPIC process.

“So, in January 2020, the helpless foreign investor went to the exalted office of Chairman Allen Capuyan to ask his help to end the delay in the restoration of its suspended CP.

“To appease the NCIP, the no-choice foreign investor agreed to withdraw its petition for review from the Court of Appeals.

“On July 6, 2020, the regional office of the NCIP where Palawan belonged recommended that the CP of the foreign investor be restored.

“Thereafter, the foreign investor was invited to participate via zoom in two en banc meetings of the NCIP. The first was held on July 7, 2020 and the second was held on August 1, 2020.

“These two meetings produced nothing for the unfortunate foreign investor…

“… Finally, on August 6, 2020, the NCIP changed its mind and required a validation of the FPIC process in 2019.

“The foreign investor was again asked to provide the money for that purpose.

"The NCIP also wanted a "delineation" of the area for the coconut plantation and for the foreign investor to provide the money for it, which was unnecessary because the

Department of Natural Resources had already done it previously, the area being a forest land within the official jurisdiction of DENR.

“This is the deplorable saga of a well-meaning foreign investor who courageously wanted to help the country.
The question is: How can we attract foreign investments to come to the country if this is the way we treat foreign investors?

“Why should we allow little Indians like those in NCIP to damage the honor and prestige of the country and her people?

“If this is the way things are below the level of the President, what future can we expect to create for the poor people not only in Palawan but in the entire county?