Why Should Researchers Follow the FPIC Guidelines?

This article was also featured on Tools4Development 🙂

Note: FPIC stands for Free, Prior Informed Consent.

How would you feel when people post your photos and sentiments on their social media pages without your consent?

I remember an elder from Itogon, Benguet sharing with me how bad the community felt after showing a ritual to a famous television reporter, and then seeing this on TV a week later being dubbed as “animal cruelty.” First off, the reporter did not even go through all the processes required to ask for consent from the community to publish videos, photos and audios from the site. Secondly, it was wholly one-way; all for the glory of stats and markets for the station.

This is sad, to think the violation was committed by one of the top reporters in the Philippines, and by the biggest station in the country. If the people on top do not set a good example, how do we expect others to go through the proper process?

Like any other research, if you intend to do your study with indigenous groups, it is very important that you respect the culture, traditions and regulations of these communities. If your plans do not correspond with their comfort, please; find ways to meet their rules. Ethical proceedings in any research are imperative, and this is where the FPIC comes into play. It ensures culturally neutral proceedings, and objective interactions with subjects after obtaining the consent of an authority figure.

Here is a general guideline on “How to Conduct Research with Indigenous Communities in the Philippines.”

UNDP-PIPR (Protecting Indigenous Peoples Rights) colleagues helped me hone these guidelines to be of use to other researchers, too.


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