DEPUTY speaker and Antique Rep. Lorna Regina “Loren” Legarda is pushing for the protection of traditional property rights and cultural heritage of Indigenous Peoples (IPs), following reports of the influx of machine-woven blankets and garments with Cordillera weave patterns from abroad into the local market.

Loren 20210207 - Legarda wants IPs rights protected
Antique Rep. Lorna Regina “Loren” Legarda. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

According to Legarda, this has greatly affected small businesses in the Cordillera Region.

“The traditional cultural heritage of our Indigenous Peoples and communities must be given the protection it deserves. Aside from the vulnerability of these rural livelihoods, we must also look into the protection of [IPs’] traditional intellectual property. This is not just market competition,” she said.

She noted that imports are undercutting IP artisans and weavers to the detriment of sustaining their culture and creative productivity.

Legarda is pushing for the passage of her House Bill 7811 or “An Act Safeguarding the Traditional Property Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

The bill aims to create a comprehensive cultural archive that will organize and provide an inventory of all cultural properties of the different ethnolinguistic groups of the Philippines.

It also mandates the payment of royalties for the use of the cultural property of the IPs.

“To prevent possible abuses or the exploitation of our cultural heritage, this bill hopes to fill the gaps and apply the conventional forms of intellectual property [such as] copyright, royalty and ownership,” Legarda explained.

The proposed bill will have broader coverage for royalties that will compensate communities for its collective and individual creative expression and extends intellectual property rights for more than 50 years.

The lawmaker also stressed the need to “ensure that legal protections and remedies are available and supported by [the] government through a clear system of registration, easily accessible to indigenous peoples and communities.”

According to Legarda, there are 14 million to 17 million IPs, belonging to 110 ethnolinguistic groups in the country. She said protecting their traditional cultural heritage is part of their many struggles.

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