Sagada elders clamor for indigenous rep, legislation

>> Monday, March 7, 2016

Gina Dizon

SAGADA, Mountain Province -- Legislation to advance indigenous peoples rights was agreed upon by elders and leaders of the 19 barangays of Sagada during their Feb. 18 gathering here at Dap-ay Malingeb, saying an Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative was needed for this tourist town.
In a resolution made by elders from  barangays, they said they wanted ordinances and resolutions that promote and protect political, civil and cultural rights of indigenous cultural communities. Conducted by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, the resolution called for enforcement of provisions of Indigenous Peoples rights Act (IPRA) particularly on indigenous knowledge systems and practices.
Incumbent IPMR Jaime Dugao said legislation, as a function of an indigenous peoples’ representative had limitations during his term. Dugao said customary practices need to be practiced in the midst of national laws which may run contrary to the former.
During the Malingeb gathering, Dugao said attending to conflict resolutions was a major function that he worked on in settling barangay, municipal and inter-municipal land conflicts. He said attending to IP-based meetings and conferences also filled his itinerary. Dugao said his function as IPMR contributed to the crafting of the indigenous peoples education (IPED) curriculum crafted by the Department of Education.
NCIP Besao and Sagada cluster xupervisor Andrew Magwelang said during the Malingeb activity that five elders per barangay shall gather and select the municipal IPMR by March. Stipend of the IPMR was a major discussion during said gathering.
The IPMR of this town has a regular stipend equal to the Sangguniang Bayan councilor consistent with national policy. The first IPMRs were first selected 2013 after the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued Joint Circular with NCIP in 2011 calling for the creation of an Indigenous Peoples representative and “the sanggunian concerned to appropriate funds covering the salaries of the selected IP/ICC representative, which shall be an amount similar to that received by the regular members of the local sanggunian”.
The joint circular provides that “the local chief executive concerned shall see to it that funds covering the salaries of the selected IP representative are included in the executive budget which he shall submit to the sanggunian.” Bontoc and Besao LGUs provide some honorarium for their respective IPMRs.
Other municipal LGUs don’t. IMPRs though they are legally mandated by virtue of DILG directive to be part of the sangguniang bayan or barangay council are not automatically members because either the elected barangay officials don’t invite her/him or don’t accept him as a member. Much more barangay LGUs have not allotted budget for this position much as the national budgeting system has not allotted funds for either a municipal or barangay IPMR.
There is practically no budget for the selected IPMR of barangay LGUs whether as a regular stipend or honorarium. It was learned that barangay IPMRs are not active and don’t attend council meetings. Another question was whether or not an IPMR was needed in a community dominated by IPs.
Alter Igoy in Save Sagada Facebook Page noted that even with IPs as sanggunian members IP rights are at most times not recognized. Where the local government code is the guide of regular sangguniang bayan members and national laws are their basis of legislation and governance, finding the appropriate law to apply customary practices such as IPRA is the job of an IPMR.
Dugao said most functions of an IPMR deal with “outside work.” This refers to dealing with national laws which run contrary to customary practices. Conflict resolutions to prevent disputes to reach the regular courts filled the itinerary of the IPMR in his three year term.
Though attending to conflict resolutions brought to the barangay lupon is an added function of the IPMRs and not necessarily to take charge of this, Magwelang said. In the same development, elders present during the Malingeb event ratified mechanics and guidelines of selecting an IPMR earlier arrived by elders of Sagada and Besao July last year.
Based on the guidelines, the IPMR should be willing to serve voluntarily, a bonafide IP by consanguinity, knowledgeable and practice customary practices where he/she is a member of, and at least 30 years of age on the day of selection. The municipal IPMR shall be selected among representative elders and leaders in the barangay duly selected in a barangay assembly. Barangay IPMRs shall select their own IPMRs at their own schedule and discretion.


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