By SHERWIN DE VERA
BAGUIO CITY — During a press conference on Monday, April 30, the head of Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) likened Mayor Mauricio Domogan to “the tyrant Duterte.”
“The mayor’s refusal for the selected Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) to assume his duty is tyranny, a denial of the IPs right to participate and be represented in the city council,” said Windel Bolinget, chairperson of CPA.
He said the mayor’s non-recognition of the selection process overseen and participated by elders of different IP groups in the city shows his contempt for indigenous processes. This, according to him, “indicates he cannot represent the IP community interests, like he previously claimed.”
Assertion a long process
The CPA leader said the assertion to have an IPMR in the city took a long process, taking off after Cordillera elders passed a resolution during a workshop on Regional Autonomy in August 2016.
On November 4, 2016, representatives from the different IP groups selected Roger Sinot, Sr., out of the five aspirants, as the first IPMR of Baguio City. They chose him based on the local guidelines drafted on October 24 and approved by the participants on the morning prior to the selection.
Section 12, Title II of Administrative Order No. 01-2009 issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples states concerned ICC/IP will determine the guidelines for the selection of their representative in the legislative council. Memorandum Circular No. 2010-119 of the Department of Interior and Local Government to local chief executives reiterated this provision.
After more than a year of asserting for his selection, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Cordillera Administrative Region issued his Certificate of Affirmation (COA) on January 5, he took an oath 11 days later.
Barred from office
However, his performance of duty was put on hold after the city’s Regional Trial Court issued a writ of preliminary injunction. This stemmed from the petition filed by the City of Baguio on January 22.
The city claimed Sinot’s assumption of office is “premature” since a group questioned his qualification and will result to “grave and irreparable damage and injury” to the local government and its constituents.
Judge Cecilia Corazon Dulay-Archog order kept Sinot from assuming the post, and the city from allotting budget for his salary and office; pending NCIP’s resolution on Sinot’s qualification and the selection process.
Not an Igorot
“He is more of a bureaucrat, than an Igorot elder. If he is really an Igorot, he would have respected the process. Domogan is the main obstacle to fully realize an IP representation in Baguio,” points the CPA leader.
Bolinget’s statement supports the general sentiment expressed by those who went to see Domogan last week. For them, the mayor’s action stripped him of his right to claim that he is an Igorot.
Leaders and elders of the Igorot community in Baguio went see Domogan on April 23 to settle the issue through “tongtongan” (dialogue), as practiced by the Ibaloi’s, the recognized ancestral claimants in the city. The presence of the other Igorot groups also prove that nobody was excluded during the selection, contrary to the chief executive’s claim.
However, the mayor resisted the idea; and vowed to fight it out through all legal means to ensure Sinot will not take his seat in the council said one who was at the talk.
Bad Precedent, Vendetta
For Sinot and his supporters, the issue presents a bad precedent. They believe it will embolden local chief executives to intervene in the future IPMR selection, if Domogan can have his way with the case.
As per NCIP guidelines, the manifestations made by the Baguio City elders and NCIP’s issuance of COA solidified the legitimacy of the selection process. Thus, the case initiated by the city intends to circumvent the entire process and in effect render the right of the IPs to select their representative irrelevant.
Elders questioned the real motive behind the case filed by the city, saying Domogan is just out for vendetta over the Asin property row between the Baguio government and Sinot, the selected IPMR.
In June 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the city over the ownership of the Asin Hot Spring Resort, and for Sinot to pay PhP5,000 monthly rental from December 1996 until he vacates the property.
However, on July 2017, the 5th Municipal Trial Court, First Judicial Region of Tuba-Sablan granted the motion filed by Sinot’s lawyer for the city to first submit a survey plan before the writ of execution issued by the same court be implemented. # nordis.net