By SHERWIN DE VERA
BAGUIO CITY — “Denial of indigenous peoples representation is tyranny.”
Tongtongan ti Umili-Cordillera Peoples Alliance (TTU-CPA) deplored the Baguio City government on Friday, August 3, for what the group calls “continuous attempts” of the city’s leadership to prevent the indigenous people to have their representation in the city council.
Geraldine Cacho, the group’s head, pointed that the city’s action works for the furtherance of national oppression and “a shame and grave injustice to the Igorot identity [the city mayor] ostensibly parades.”
The group’s reaction stemmed from an official court document, where the city claimed indigenous peoples in Baguio “are not marginalized or a minority” and rejected having an indigenous peoples mandatory representative (IPMR).
Submitted to the Regional Trial Court Branch 7 on July 19, the document contains the city’s response to the complaint for declaratory relief filed by Roger Sinot, Sr. in relation to the third petition preventing him to assume office as IPMR of Baguio. It was signed by all the elected officials of the city led by Mayor Mauricio Domogan.
The signatories said having an IPMR is “redundant and would result to reverse discrimination” since the officials are already IPs. Citing Section 78 of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act that says the city “shall remain to be governed by its Charter…”, they also asserted that “Baguio City exempt[ed] from the coverage of IPRA” and “insulates [it] from having an IPMR.”
Cacho deems the statements as “not just insulting, but ridiculous.”
“While they make up a large chunk of the city’s population, indigenous peoples — most especially migrant groups — are usually excluded from discussions about urban planning in Baguio,” she said.
Of the city’s total population of 350,000, around 120,000 are IPs according to the United Nations.
“It is now clear that Mayor Domogan is not only opposed to having the selected IPMR assume office but is against the right to representation of indigenous peoples in government,” adds Cacho.
She also reminded that American colonization displaced the Ibaloys when they designated Baguio as the government’s summer capital. While other Igorot groups migrated into the city due to worsening national oppression in the interior Cordilleras.
“We remind Mayor Domogan and his cohorts that the people has spoken, and that their voice must prevail,” she ended. # nordis.net