CPA welcomes first IP rep to Baguio Council

By JUDE BAGGO with reportS from DAVID FIANZA

BAGUIO CITY — The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) welcomed the historic selection of the first representative of the Ibalois, the original inhabitants of Kafagway (now Baguio City), to the City Council.

In a general assembly attended by Ibalois from all over the city last November 4, the guidelines for the selection process of the Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative (IPMR) were crafted and was followed by the selection via secret ballot.

Besting four other candidates, former Ibaloi council of elders chairperson Roger Sinot led the tally making him the first IPMR. Sinot still needs to accomplish the necessary requirements and processes for certification by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) before sitting as an official member of the Baguio City Council.

In a statement, Jill K. Cariño, Vice Chairperson of CPA and an Ibaloi, said, “It is a promising development that the Ibalois in Baguio City have selected their first IPMR to the Baguio City Council.”

Cariño added that, “The selection is historic since, for the first time after 18 years of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), the Ibalois will now be given the chance to be heard in the Baguio City Council especially regarding their concerns on ancestral lands, development, and the promotion of indigenous peoples rights and Ibaloi culture in the city. It is long overdue that the indigenous peoples are given a voice in the local government especially since they comprise a significant section if not the majority of the City’s population.”

Cariño further stated that, “We also recognize and thank the indigenous peoples migrants in Baguio City who issued a resolution during the Cordillera Elders conference held last August 29-30, 2016 pushing and expressing support for the Ibalois to sit as an IPMR in the council, in recognition as the original inhabitants of Kafagway.”

“We look forward to working with Roger Sinot as our new IPMR to advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the City,” concluded Cariño.

Meanwhile Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan hit the process of selection saying it has excluded other IP groups such as the Kankanaeys and Kalanguyas and confined the voting and selection to the Ibaloi group.

Atty. Harriet N. Abyadang of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Baguio said the selection process was conducted following the local guidelines the assembly ratified.

The set of guidelines for the selection process was approved and signed by members of the assembly who belonged to the Ibaloi, Kankanaey, and Kalanguya Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) who are residents in the city, prior to the secret balloting. #