Cordillera town questions rule for mandatory IP rep in IP areas
BAGUIO CITY— A town in Mountain Province is questioning a government rule mandating an indigenous Filipino representative in all local councils, including indigenous communities.
In an August 5 resolution, the Sadanga municipal council challenged the applicability of a provision in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (Republic Act No. 8371) for indigenous peoples mandatory representatives (IPMR) to be included in all local legislative councils nationwide, arguing that their elected officials already represent the IP community.
Sadanga Resolution No. 45-2019, also abolished the IPMR position that was opened by the previous council.
Sadanga Mayor Gabino Ganggangan on Thursday said the previous IP representative had been granted weekly honorariums – not a salary granted to all councilors – due to budgetary constraints “leading our officials there to ask why we need one.”
“The IPMR guidelines issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and enforced by the Department of the Interior and Local Government, state that the IPMR is entitled to the same benefits granted to the whole council so former Sadanga officials have been violating the rules,” Ganggangan said, on the sidelines of the quarterly meeting of the Cordillera Regional Development Council.
Section 16 of IPRA recognizes the right of indigenous communities “to participate fully, should they choose, at all levels of decision-making in matters which may affect their rights, lives and destinies,” according to NCIP Administrative Order No. 3-2018, the latest revision of the IPMR guidelines.
Sadanga officials argued that the local government, from the mayor down to village leaders, are members of the local tribe, making the IPMR unnecessary.
“After extensive debate on the issue, the [council]… opted not to allow a seat for the IPMR in as much as it would amount to a duplication of functions and the unnecessary waste of taxpayers money for a municipality already suffering from financial constraints,” the resolution states.
Baguio officials have also blocked its IPMR, who was selected by the local council of elders, owing to questions about his eligibility, and due to documents that allegedly show he was previously convicted for a crime. /kga
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