From Under This Hat: A free press and indigenous peoples of Baguio

By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
www.nordis.net

The free-est press in Asia is said to be the Philippines’ but it has been also on the top list of the world’s deadliest country for journalists for most part of this decade, second only to the war torn Iran. The recent treatment of the bigger news outfits of mainstream media of their writers and media workers as mass lay-off even a hundred at one time, simply adds more truth in the gross and growing numbers of the unemployed in the country as against the claim of government spokespersons that the national economy is improving.

Then now that force for a charter change (Chacha) that proposes to amend the inherent Bill of Rights, or the rights that peope are born with! Particularly that which instills “No law shall be passed abridging the of freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances” (Article 3, Section 4 (freedom of speech) of the 1987 Constitution, enshrined in the Bill of Rights), by inserting the phrase ‘responsible exercise’. And who do you think wants to impinge on that inallienable right and define what “responsible exercise” is? This proposal to amend can only add genuine support to the movement to Resist Tyranny.

The beleaguered IPMR to Baguio City Council

Tomorrow, people hope our Honorables in City Hall shall respect and welcome the duly selected Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) in the City council. We also hope that they see to it that he is accorded all the official necessities and amenities due a councilor so he may now officially start dispensing his responsibilities as the representative of the IP communities in the City. Well, I trust they would.

The Baguio IP communities may have high expectations from his representation but that is what is usually put on the shoulders of one chosen into such a position like those we have elected to city hall … We hope, we or’nery citizens would not (said in jest) later feel disappointed or disillusioned for expecting too much? So this time, let us change tactics and be more practical and more productive by being actively informed and involved with issues that commonly affect us and our communitites (IPs, and non IPs, our barangay, in our city and in our country). Let us be more supportive to our leaders by being critical and encourage them to be more transparent with their governance that affects us all.

The duly selected IPMR took his oath of office last Monday and looks forward to be seated in office tomorrow. To show support and to warn him we are watching, let us proudly don our respective indigenous attires and accompany him or just go see he properly takes his official seat in city hall, lest we shove him into it. (pun intended).

All Igorots and national minorities who have taken residence in the city must now come together to unite on necessary legislations that have to be made to seek resolutions to our common socio-political issues in our city-communities and lobby with him to include it in the proposed indigenous peoples agenda of the city council. It is the IPMRs mandate in this culturally diverse city to represent and it will urgently need our united support. So it is a call, especially to the Ibaloi community to where the selected IPMR belongs, to give up all the bickerings, intrigues, bad-mouthing they have exposed during and after the selection of the IPMR that has deprived them of a good opportunity to officially air their community issues. May the Ibalois of Baguio seek unity and support with other Igorots and peoples for solutions to their ancestral land problems and to uphold the right to self-determination.

See you in City Hall on Monday. # nordis.net

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