NCIP director inhibits from Baguio IPMR issue

With reports KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY — The regional director of the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) here, raised the resolution of the indigenous peoples mandatory representative (IPMR) for Baguio City to the NCIP central office.

Director Ronald Calde of the NCIP Cordillera, in an interview last October 18 said he inhibited himself from deciding on the case of Roger Sinot, the selected IPMR of the Indigenous peoples communities in the city.

“Mr. Sinot already concluded that I am bias(ed) so I would rather let the central office decide on his case,” Calde said.

It can be recalled that Calde did not issue a certificate of affirmation for Sinot after another ethnolinguistic group complained that they were not included in the process of selection of an IPMR.

Calde reiterated that he cannot issue the affirmation unless the protest is addressed. He said that based on NCIP guidelines, the issue must be resolved among the IPs themselves, which was the reason stated by the NCIP-CAR director to hold another assembly on October 7.

“Nothing was really resolved in the October 7 assembly because both parties are firm on their positions, some were calling for re-selection while some want Sinot’s affirmation,” Calde said.

Calde said that another assembly should be called again to once and for all thresh out and resolve the issues.

It can be recalled that in August of 2016 in commemoration of World IP Day, was a Cordillera Elders Workshop on Autonomy convened by the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) in partnership with the Regional Development Council-CAR through NEDA-CAR and the CAR Association of State Universities and Colleges (CARASUC); and a Cordillera Multi-stakeholders Consultation on Autonomy and Federalism, also in partnership with RDC-NEDA, CARASUC and UP Baguio. Both events were hosted by the Benguet State University (BSU).

In the elders assembly on autonomy two separate workshop groups were convened: one for Baguio Ancestral Land claimants and the other for migrant Igorots to Baguio, who discussed and resolved that the selection of the IPMR for the Baguio city council must be already called for, and that the first IPMR is rightfully from the Ibaloi, original settlers of Baguio. The City government and the NCIP regional office were furnished copies of the elders’ workshop resolutions.

According to Ibaloi elder Isabelo Cosalan, Sr. and head of the Council of Elders (coel) for Baguio ancestral land claims that convenes every week at the local NCIP office, they were furnished a copy of these resolutions to act upon. They discussed and unanimously decided to nominate Roger Sinot as IPMR in 2016.

Meanwhile, the City council also passed a resolution to initiate the process and support the position.

Cosalan said it was the resolution by the Cordillera Elders’ Assembly (CEA) that had encouraged the NCIP to initiate and facilitate the selection process for a Baguio IPMR with the council of elders. So that the information drive directed to the different Indigenous Cultural Communities in the City commenced and called for an assembly to review the national guidelines and to formulate the local guidelines. Under the supervision of the NCIP Baguio Office.

The assembly of more or less 300 Ibaloy ancestral land claimants who were born and residents in Baguio was convened to undergo a two-day information education forum on the IPRA and the right to be represented by an IPMR of their choice by consensus. Verified elders from the barangays and Ibaloi community clusters were tasked to assure the representation of the Ibaloi clans and ancestral land owners in their jurisdiction, in the assembly on November 4, 2016 to finally select the IPMR to the Baguio City council.

A protest to the selection process and consequently the selected IPMR was filed on November 15 with the NCIP regional director’s office by personalities who claimed to represent the Kankana-eys and Kalanguyas in Baguio. Two investigation teams have been organized and tasked to review and verify their allegations of a marred selection process and disqualification of the selected representative by the NCIP-CAR by responsible members of their staff. Both teams upheld the process and recommended the Certification of Affirmation be issued by the NCIP regional director.

Statements made and issued by indigenous peoples’ organizations and community elders (Ibaloy and from other IP communities in Baguio) have consistently criticised the delay caused by the “indecisiveness” of the regional director on the issuance of the affirmation of the duly selected IPMR. The CPA and the Metro-Baguio Tribal Elders and Leaders Assembly have now taken a stronger stand on the controversy and issued statements condemning the “moves being taken by the regional director to prolong the duly selected IPMR from officially representing the indigeous peoples of the city.” # nordis.net

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