By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
“It has been eight months since the selection of the IPMR (Indigenous peoples mandatory representative) for Baguio has been done and up until now why has the NCIP not issued his affirmation so he can now rightfully represent us in the City council?” noted one Ibaloy elder.
Engineer Isabelo Cosalan, Sr., who has been selected at several Ibaloy occassions to preside over their “tongtong” or meetings on issues from their ranks as one of the recognized indigenous cultural communities (ICC) in the Cordillera, said this on the state of the presumptive indigenous people’s mandatory representative to the Baguio city Council.
The delay of the affirmation of the Baguio IPMR is causing unrest among the Ibaloy population and other Indigenous Communities in the City as violations to their rights as indigenous peoples are increasing. The demand for housing, settlement areas and livelihood is rising from misdirected programs for these among the local ICC and urban poor commuities, the entry of mining – small and large scale- into the ancestral lands in the metro-Baguio area, and most of all, the continued non-recognition and respect of the ancestral land ownership of the Ibaloy people of Baguio, among others.
In an Ibaloy elder’s meeting called on the 27th of June to tackle the complaint filed at the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Cordillera regional office against the presumptive IPMR, presided over by Atty. Moises P. Cating, each representative present were asked to voice out their position on what to do with the still unoccupied IPMR position. A majority of those present opted to call another selection process for the IPMR position if the presumptive IPMR did not qualify according to legitimately defined guidelines to take his seat at the city council. The body appointed a group of five to meet and talk to the presumptive IPMR Roger Sinot, Sr., about his position and to meet with the elders to present his side.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Sinot, he showed xerox copies of documents filed with the NCIP as required for the affirmation of his selection and his taking his position in the City Council. The documents showed that Sinot was given an NCIP endorsement on December 17, 2016 which by legal circumstances states that such endorsement was “final, unappealable, and executory…”
He also copy furnished NDW the demand letter his lawyer, Atty. Francis Rae G. Camtugan II, representing him has sent and that was received the 27th June 2017 by the NCIP Region, asking them why his client has not yet been given his Certificate of Affirmation from their office, has he been disqualified? There has been no official answer yet.
Earlier, a group who identified themselves as from the Kalanguyas, Kanakna-eys in Baguio filed a complaint and protest against the selection of Sinot as the IPMR with the NCIP regional offices. They raised questions against the process of selection, and Mr. Sinot’s qualification as a voter in the City. Responding to the complaint, the NCIP regional director assigned and allowed an investigation of the circumstances in the selection for the IPMR, and required an official report from those he assigned. The NCIP group was thorough with their investigation, their findings, and their report was submitted; and their recommendations have also called for the affirmation of Mr. Sinot to the Baguio IPMR position.
Nevertheless, the complainants sought all kinds of venues to air their complaints including the Baguio City council, which somehow resulted to the convening of an IP consultation at the Baguio City hall that was questioned by members of the Cordillera Elders Alliance (CEA) in Baguio. It can be recalled that the CEA called a workshop during their last general assembly that has passed a declaration to call for the selection of the Baguio IPMR and endorsed that the first IPMR must be from the Ibaloy first as original settlers of the now Baguio City.
This resolution continues to be supported by the likes of the Heirs of Mateo and Bayosa Carino, other Ibaloy clans, the City council, Tongtongan ti Umili, the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance, Aspulan ni Ibadoy, Kaiabang Benguet, among others.
In a June 24th IP Consultation at city hall, Evelyn Miranda of the CEA, Am-among ti Bontoc and the Metro Baguio Tribal Leaders Assembly, expressed her mandate and commented that should the Ibaloy be incapacitated to represent themselves and the other ICCs in Baguio, they are ready to take on the represention.
The guidelines for the selection of the local IPMR also required that the person seeking the position must be a Baguio born Ibaloy, a legitimate ancestral land claimant (owner) of Baguio, a Filipino national and registered voter of Baguio.
Let us make Roger take his seat in the City Council before we complain about his performance as our selected IPMR. Let us also demand that NCIP region throw out that complaint against him as it has no basis, and stop violating our rights to be legitimately represented in the Council by our chosen Ibaloy.
Uweh, Maladamsis! # nordis.net