On April 23, 2022, ABA ROLI and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) jointly organized their 5th Legal Aid Caravan (LAC) for indigenous peoples, held at the Evelio B. Javier Sports Complex in the Municipality of San Jose de Buenavista, Antique province. This event continued ABA ROLI’s longstanding support for IBP’s work to promote and institutionalize pro bono legal aid services, through ABA ROLI’s five-year program entitled “Access to Justice and Support for the Rule of Law” (ACCESS), supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Thirty-two indigenous people (IPs) (27 women) from two barangays in Antique Province participated in the LAC, which was overseen by the IBP National Center for Legal Aid (IBP NCLA) under its Director Atty. Eric Alajar and the IBP Antique Chapter headed by Chapter President Atty. Pevi Mae Jalipa.
In the opening session, Atty. Jalipa expressed her gratitude to ABA ROLI and the IBP NCLA for extending their support to the caravan. She also thanked the IPs for travelling long hours to attend the activity. She assured the participants that IBP Antique would do its best to help IPs with their legal concerns. ABA ROLI Country Director Mr. Peter Mackenzie expressed his gratitude to the IBP for its work to enhance access to justice and support the rule of law. Atty. Alajar explained the partnership between IBP and ABA ROLI and IBP’s role in providing legal aid services. National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) representative Ms. Milagrosa Crespo joined in the discussions and assisted the IPs in explaining their situations to the lawyers.
The IP participants raised issues pertinent to their ancestral domains. These properties are often subjected to disputed transfers of ownership to third persons, resulting in the need to assist IPs in transacting with the civil registry. As these concerns will take time to resolve, IBP Antique vowed to continue assisting the IPs and distributed the contact details of the lawyers present.
To maximize opportunities for the IPs, the LAC program also included a vaccination information drive and hygiene and sanitation information session led by Department of Health representatives Ms. Jemma M. Bacongallo and Ms. Perpetua C. Elizan.
This LAC provided IPs in Antique with a better practical understanding of their rights and the legal services available to them. It also provided a chance for officers and members of the IBP’s Antique chapter and NCLA to enhance legal awareness in the community and offer pro bono services to the public.
Learn more about ABA ROLI’s work across Asia & the Pacific.