Thirty-one percent of the Philippine population depends on agriculture which accounts to 10% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2013 (Philippine Statistics Authority, 2015). Whereas, the forest ecosystem directly supports approximately 30% of the population, including the indigenous peoples (Philippine Midterm Development Plan).
While it is vital that farmers and indigenous peoples (IPs) have secured their rights to the lands they till and manage, a large number of these sectors remain landless despite the existence of agrarian reform and indigenous people’s rights laws.
As of 2016, 69,000 hectares (ha) of agricultural lands are yet to be distributed to landless farmers; while only 55% of the targeted area for ancestral domain coverage (7.7 million ha) have been awarded to indigenous communities after 13 years (2010) of passage of the law on IPs.
Apart from tenurial security issues, they also suffer from insufficient access to support services, landlords and private company harassment, unfair negotiations, and limited capacities; hence, placed among of the poorest and most disadvantaged sectors in the society. Issue on overlapping claims on land and resources is also a pressing factor to tenure insecurity with the country’s overlapping land and jurisdiction laws.
Recognizing the situation, NES in the Philippines pursues for the passage of the proposed laws on Notice of Coverage (NOC), Indigenous Community Conservation Area (ICCA), and on National Land Use Act (NLUA). NES Philippines also builds the capacities of farmers and indigenous peoples through trainings on paralegal, and project assessments and negotiation.