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Igorot - The Father of Indigenous Peoples Right?

The act of an Igorot (Ibaloi) gives birth to the backbone of all laws pertaining to Indigenous rights and ancestral land the Carino Doctrine.

 |  3 min read

Photo credit to NPDC
Photo credit to NPDC

Did you know that an Igorot person stamped an event in history that caught the eyes of the world in somewhat useful and dazzling manner? As part of the Indigenous people's month, I had the curiosity to dig deeper in history and this I found.

Every indigenous group of people who are ostracized by the Regalian Doctrine which is still in effect until today would come to admire the unparalleled courage of Mateo Cariño - an Ibaloi who came from the family of herdsman. He valiantly stood against the US Colonial Government in the Philippine court all the way to the US Supreme Court to contest the confiscation of his family's pasturelands. This courageous act gives birth to the most adorned doctrine that becomes the backbone of all laws pertaining to Indigenous rights and ancestral land - the Cariño Doctrine.

Laws that were founded upon the Cariño Doctrine are our very own IPRA (Indigenous Peoples Right Act) which was signed into law on October of 1997 after nearly 80 years, and the UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the. Rights of Indigenous Peoples) which was formally adapted by the UN General Assembly in 2007 with 143 member countries in favor.

It is just but right to say that the driving force for the creation of the Indigenous Peoples Right has flowered in the heart of an Indigenous person who live in the hinterland of the Cordillera Mountain in the Northern Philippine, in the province of Benguet. For this, may he be respectfully known as the Father of Indigenous Peoples Right, for he and he alone had that willful resolve to expose the dreadfulness of a human law that dissipate the voices of minorities in a legal way. His action challenged the boundaries of the law as well as the center of wisdom - the highest court that gives final decisions to matters of the world.

This begun when the American government in the Philippines confiscated Cariño family's pasturelands to be converted into Military hill station. For six long years of court battle against a government that was far powerful that him, like that of a Goliath and David, he endured. Finally in 1909, the US Supreme Court declared that "... when, as far back as testimony or memory goes, that land has been held by individuals under a claim or private ownership, it will be presumed to have been held in the same way from before the Spanish conquest, and never to have been public land.... Law and justice require that the applicant should be granted what he seeks, and should not be deprived of what by practice and belief of those among whom he lived, was his property." (Cariño vs. Insular Government)

This decision bestowed by the US Supreme Court to the courageous Igorot man named Mateo Cariño has changed how the Indigenous People are treated when it comes to their domain. Now, their voices do not fall on deaf ears as they were protected by the laws founded upon the Cariño doctrine.


Wherever i go, whatever i do, i will stamp the insignia of my ancestor ----Proud Igorota on board!!!!


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