Coops extend relief support to IP groups in Mindanao

According to a report from the United Nations*, COVID-19 poses a grave threat to indigenous communities throughout world. Already facing poor access to sanitation and technology, the indigenous people (IP) is one of the most vulnerable sectors in the pandemic.

In Mindanao, some cooperatives have supported the IPs in lessening the impact of the pandemic to their everyday life.

Tribal group gives rice to IP coffee farmers

In April, Miarayon Lapok Lirongan Tinaytayan Talaandig Tribal Association (Milalittra) in Bukidnon, with the support from Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF), distributed rice to Talaandig farmers affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Joanna Dumaquita, General Manager of Milalittra, said that their relief operations reached 500 families, most of them IP coffee farmers in Miarayon region of the province.

“Hirap talaga ang mga coffee farmers dahil nung inimplement na ang ECQ, hindi na sila pinayagan lumabas para sa pag-harvest ng kape. Ito pa naman ang mga huling buwan ng harvest,” she said.

Aside from the relief assistance, Milalitra’s coffee processing operation remains open while implementing the minimum health guidelines to ensure that their farmer-members have continuous income.

Displaced Lumads receive support in Sultan Kudarat

 Aside from COVID-19, 432 families of Teduray and Lambangian tribes in Sultan Kudarat are suffering from armed conflict in the areas bordering the province and Maguindanao. Some of them are confined in school grounds of barangays Kalamongog and Purikay in Lebak.

Their dire situation prompted Bacbacan Multipurpose Cooperative (BMC) to seek relief assistance for the displaced Lumads.

With the support from the local government, BMC provided food (rice, canned goods, noodles) and non-food items such as tarpaulin sheets for makeshift tents and hygiene kits to the affected families.  

According to BMC General Manager Maria Magdalena Ruiz, aside from helping displaced Lumads, their cooperative also extended support to households in 15 barangays, two hospitals, and a public market through provision of snacks, food, and hygiene kits.

As the country move towards a new normal way of living, cooperatives are already stepping up to provide for the needs of our IP communities, ensuring inclusivity and openness in the time of crisis.