Indigenous peoples (IPs) in Negros Occidental will now be able to benefit from the strengthened delivery of basic health services with the creation of the Provincial Inter-Agency Committee (PIAC) on IPs’ Health.
Officials and representatives of the Provincial Health Office (PHO), Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Health, and the National Commission on IPs led the signing of the PIAC covenant in rites held at Nature’s Village Hotel in this city on Tuesday.
“We pledge to harmoniously unite our efforts and resources to uplift the lives of the indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs) of Negros Occidental,” the signatories said in the pledge of commitment.
The IP-PIAC was created through Executive Order 19-26, signed by Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson on August 9 in support of the implementation of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act and in pursuit of the Universal Health Care.
Negros Occidental is home to IP groups locally known as Ata, Ati and Bukidnon with an estimated population of 400,000.
The IPs from the Ituman-Magahat Bukidnon of Binalbagan town under the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples Organization in Southern Negros Occidental; the Ati of Sitio Marikudo, Barangay Camangcamang, Isabela town; and Panay Bukidnon of Sitio Sibato, Barangay Guimbala-on, Silay City attended the covenant signing rites, and performed “kudlitan” and dance rituals.
Panay Bukidnon tribal leader Ben Acse acknowledged the government’s inter-agency effort to improve the delivery of basic health services to ICCs situated in remote areas.
“We look forward to avail of the health services through the executive order of the governor. We will work with you to fulfill our dreams of providing better lives for the IPs,” Acse said in the Kinaray-a language.
Midwife Marie Flor Cabaylo coordinator of IP-Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas of PHO-Negros Occidental, said they have scheduled a series of caravans of health services for the tribal communities across the province.
Col. Romeo Baleros, police provincial director, said the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, which is a member of IP-PIAC, will provide security to personnel of the PHO and DOH, and other concerned agencies, when traveling to remote tribal communities to bring government services to the IPs.
Other national government agencies comprising the IP-PIAC are the Commission on Higher Education, Philippine Health Insurance Corp., Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Philippine Information Agency, Philippine Statistics Authority, and the departments of education, social welfare, agriculture, and public works and highways. (PNA)
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