By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
BAGUIO CITY — On the note, “Boses ni karadan en onong”. (the voice of the people is law) elders from the Igorot communities of Baguio convened an assembly for the purpose of updating and deciding on the issues being raised by some quarters on the non-affirmation of the selected indigenous peoples mandatory reprsentative (IPMR) to the City council of Baguio was called Saturday, September 23.
The assembly not only got updated but also came to build consensus to bring the presumptive IPMR to the City council and make known their demand to be represented in the local legislative body as provided for by law.
Initiated by the Council Elders of the Baguio ancestral land claimants and the Metro-Baguio Tribal Elders and Leaders Assembly (MBTELA) more than 120 elders representing all 6 ibaloy clusters in Baguio’s 129 barangays and migrant Igorots representing five provinces of the Cordilleras assembled in a forum where representatives from the City council, the council of Ibaloy elders and the local National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and legal minds were invited to shed light on the selection process and local laws defining the qualifications for an IPMR for Baguio.
In the ensuing discussions and updates contributed by the participating elders and speakers, it has come to light that only the regional director of the NCIP stands to hold back the position from the selected mandatory representative by refusing to issue a Certificate of Affirmation for the selected IPMR, Roger Sinot, Sr.
“It was also pointed out that sectoral representatives as provided for by law are direct representatives of the people, the IPMR is one such position as with the sectoral representatives for workers, farmers, people with disabilities, urban poor and women,” Councilor Arthur L. Allad-iw stressed.
The local NCIP office acting on resolutions and petitions from: the City council, a number of Cordillera wide IP organizations, and Ibaloy groups facillitated the process of selection by the agreed closest traditional practice of the Ibaloy tongtong or tavtaval which culminated in the November 4, 2016 assembly called to select the IPMR. But since then the seating of the selected IPMR has not been affirmed by the regional office of the NCIP.
Quarters were quoted that the present OIC regional director has expressed that he can sign the affirmation paper of the selected IPMR “but he will not” despite lobby from tribal elders and IP organizations in the City and in the region who recognize that such is depriving them of being represented in the August body.
The local representatives of indigenous peoples’ communities unanimously decided to pass a petition seeking the immediate affirmation of the presumptive IPMR. They also came to a consensus to accompany him to the City council in session on Monday, tomorrow. Ibaloy elder Isabelo Cosalan, Sr. Reiterated, “boses ni karadan en onong” and invited the conscientious indigenous peoples and indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) to join them visit and present the selected IPMR to the Council at 9AM tomorrow, September 25. # nordis.net