February 15th, 2017 | by Balaod Mindanaw
Although Mindanao is blessed with an expansive territory, fertile land and abundant natural resources, many of the people live below poverty line and are unable to benefit from the resources and wealth of the land inspite of the various social legislations that address inequities in resource distribution.
BALAOD works with farmers, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk and other marginalized communities in addressing their resource-tenure and access-to-justice issues. Paralegal trainings and capacity-building programs are conducted to empower these basic sectors with the basic knowledge and skills necessary in pursuing their rights under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, the Indigenous People’s Rights Act, the Fisheries Code and other relevant social legislations that afford equitable access of the poor to resources, justice and services. Armed with the essential understanding of the laws, of the principles of paralegalism, and of the basic legal processes, these communities in the far-flung highlands and islands are able to assert and defend their rights even in the absence of lawyers who are mostly in urban areas. But to further assist these sectors, BALAOD also handles litigation cases in the defense/ pursuit of the sectors’ rights.
Legal clinics and consultations are also conducted on these sectors to identify obstacles and gaps in present laws and policies. BALAOD then engages the affected sectors in the formulation of new policies, and supports advocacy initiatives for the promotion and enactment of policy/ law recommendations.