Officers in the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) must be cringing with shame and mediocrity, recognizing the disservice they cause for the Igorots of Baguio (Ibaloy, Mountain Province, Kalinga, Abra, Ifugao, Apayao) as their office continues to be indecisive to formally recognize in writing the selected Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of Baguio who was legitimately chosen by mandated processes, by the national and local guidelines under their strict supervision, and officially documented by them. Or simply deny him that right to represent his mandate, his people to the city council in writing.
On Saturday, 23 September 2017, elders from the different national minority groups or ICCs (indigenous cultural communities) in Baguio City came together in an assembly facillitated by the Metro-Baguio Tribal Elders, Leaders Assembly (MBTELA). According to their chairperson their organization and she personally, felt that the Baguio Ibaloys must unite and put themselves solidly behind the Ibaloy selected Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) because he also is their selected IPMR as immigrant indigenous peoples to the City.
She said that historically and by virtue of Baguio being the Ibaloy’s ancestral domain and territory, and because they are the original settlers of the now Baguio City, only they actually have the right to be the IPMR in Baguio. We must recognize and respect that in the same way as (we) Bontocs, Ifugaos, Kankaneys, etc. will not allow an Ibaloy to be our IPMR in (our) the Ili or in our ancestral domains; and also that they respected us and our rights as migrant igorots seeking greener pastures in their territories.
So that, in this MBTELA and Baguio Ancestral Land Claimants Council of Elders convened assembly attended by the officers, and Ibaloy clans and IP community representatives, have collectively by a consensus re-affirmed their support to the selected IPMR to the Baguio City Council. Led by Ibaloy head convenor Isabelo Cosalan, Sr. The Council of Elders and the assembly officiated the oath of office of the selected IPMR.
In the ensuing days, in a group with the presumptive IPMR, the elders from both organizations and other IP groups in a show of support visited the City councilors and the vice mayor to present for recognition of their democratically chosen representative. They wrote the NCIP-CAR regional director and furnished him with the documentation of their assembly results, they also had an audience with the Ethnographic Commissioner for CAR in the NCIP, and travelled for an audience with the NCIP chairperson and Commission en banc.
Except for the regional director, all the visited NCIP officers affirmed that the process and guidelines by which the presumptive IPMR was selected was legit or in order, and promised that they would instruct the regional office to issue the Certificate of Affirmation for the selected IPMR. But none of them placed it in writing. For all the Igorots in Baguio who shall be represented by the IPMR in the Baguio City Council, can keep watch for developments these coming days and be prepared to a call for their support to a concerted action to express their democratic choice to be represented by the presumptive IPMR, as indigenous peoples of Baguio City.
The indecisiveness of the NCIP to issue the certificate of affirmation for this IPMR, can be rectified by heeding the “voice of the people…” under the guidance of principled Igorot elders, not politicians or selfish interests, or opportunists vying for government positions or profits in government service. # nordis.net