Who needs an Ivadoy council?

>> Sunday, October 30, 2016

March Fianza

            Suddenly, people are asking about who may sit as IP representative in the city council. Suddenly, for obvious reasons, for hidden motivations and for good intentions; a handful of Ibaloys are up to the challenge.
But first, why an IPMR? Who needs an Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative for Baguio? These are just few questions that are demanding answers. Baguio’s history that dates back before its colonial past can come up with answers.
In the last assembly of Baguio Ibaloys at the Onjon ni Ivadoy Heritage Garden at Burnham Park last week, we were again reminded of the struggles that Ibaloys had to go through even prior to the appointment of outspoken leader Mateo Cariño as Ibaloy headman of Kafagway.
Mateo Cariño was the Ibaloy chieftain who sued the American government in the early 1900s for occupying his land illegally and deceptively. He won his case in court that led to the recognition of the “native title”. The court ruling is popularly known as the Cariño doctrine.
The landmark ruling by American Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes acknowledged the Native Title which ruled that “lands that were originally occupied in private capacity since time immemorial never became public lands.” The Baguio area has never been “public” as there were Ibaloy occupants even prior to the arrival of the Spaniards, later the Americans.
With this, the city council through the IPMR can now identify which areas are ancestral lands and which areas in the city may be disposed of through the TSA process (Townsite Sales Application) and other processes under the DENR.
One IPMR applicant during the Ibaloy assembly last week mentioned about looking after matters concerning the other IPs in the city. True, there are other IPs in the city, however, their concerns may not be matters that need the attention of the IPMR. These concerns may be responded to by the other 10 councilors whom they elected at large, since the IPMR’s special appointment may focus on issues linked to Ibaloy IPs.  
The spirit of the law in allowing the special participation of an IPMR in the legislative council was derived from the crafting of the IPRA which basically discusses extensively IP land problems, vanishing or changing culture and identity.  
To concentrate on the promotion of culture and sustaining identity may not be correct after all if the land where an IP group is anchored ceases to exist. A concrete example is the absence of the IP ancestral land claimants over lands within the Camp 8-San Vicente-Puliwes area.
Today, what we hear in that area are sounds of gongs of a northern tribe. We do not hear gongs of the Ibaloy anymore because they were displaced or have sold their lands to their brother IPs from the north or to land buyers from the lowlands.   
Ironically, I look at the annual celebration of Ibaloy Day. Without that part of Burnham Park that was identified and allowed by the city and the Dept. of Tourism to be used by the Onjon ni Ivadoy, there could not be any occasion of promoting the Ibaloy culture or sustaining the “IP” (Inom and Pulutan).
But what I fear now is the hidden motivation of an IPMR applicant who is mainly after the decent salary of a city councilor. As expected, I heard his friend say that the IPMR should donate at least P5,000 to the Onjon ni Ivadoy kitchen so that they will a nonstop source of fund for their inom and pulutan.   
Obviously, I noticed that one IPMR applicant is not keen on resolving Ibaloy issues by “holding the bull by its horns” so to speak. Instead, he is bound to ally with the executive department which is exactly in contrast to the spirit of the IPMR’s presence in the council. In such case, the IPMR merely becomes a “stamp pad” in the council.

If these are the people who will sit as Ibaloy representative in the council, what do we need a Baguio IPMR for?  


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