City council signifies support to Baguio IPMR

>> Thursday, December 8, 2016

By March L. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY – City councilors of this summer capital indicated last week their support to the position of the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) in the legislative body and in barangay councils by clarifying issues relative to a proposed ordinance allocating the budget for the office that will be occupied soon.  
           Cordillera tribal members who are leaders and elders in their associations, along with officials of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples clarified questions fielded by the councilors as they reiterated their full support to the IPMR who was chosen in a selection process last November 4, 2016.
Former school teacher and Pinsao barangay chairman Roger D. SinotSr, the great grandson of Piraso (one name), one of the original Ibaloy settlers of the Kafagway area (Baguio) was selected from among five nominees by an IP assembly consisting of Ibaloy, Kankanaey and Kalanguya tribal members residing in the city of Baguio.  
             Former NCIP commission chair Pawid who introduced herself as “ZenaidaCarinoMacli-ing Hamada Pawid”, a descendant of the early Kafagway chieftain Mateo Cariño, urged the council to assert their “power of the purse” function, as it has been a long wait for the IPs in Baguio to have a representative in the legislative body.
Incidentally in a meeting outside the city council, councilor Peter C. Fianza, also a descendant of Mateo Carino, said there is no problem with the council in appropriating the budget of the IPMR as to his salary, office supplies and staff as this is mandated by law.
On the contrary, there were some allegations that the budget department under the mayor’s office had stated that the money available was only for the honorarium of the IPMR and none for his office and staff, which is contrary to the “power of the purse” function of the City Council.
Councilor Art Alladiw, the proponent of the ordinance said, failing to make available the necessary budget as provided in an ordinance is against the law and runs contrary to the provisions of the local government code and the implementing rules of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.  
             In the council, there were questions as to how the selection of the IPMR was conducted even while councilor Fianza believed that this does not need to be discussed in the legislative body as this concerns the NCIP.
Councilors Leandro Yangot, Edgar Avila, Joel Alangsab, Michael Lawana and Benny Bomogao fielded their questions as Vice Mayor Edison Bilog listened attentively.
Councilor Faustino Olowan, chair of the Committee on Laws observed that there was opposition to the selection process even while the chosen IPMR has yet to occupy his seat in the council.
But Atty. Harriet Nazarro-Abyadang of the NCIP Baguio Office explained that the process followed the local and national guidelines that were ratified and signed by the plenary and assembly of Baguio Ibaloys, Kankanaeys and Kalanguya. No exclusion of groups was done as there were rules to follow.
A couple of self-styled oppositors said they were stating a “little complaint” because the term-sharing scheme in serving as IPMR is not clear in the guidelines that was ratified by the assembly.
But this statement was frowned upon by those who were invited to the council as this was a shift to a position that was entirely different from what they stated in the letter-petition that they submitted to the offices of the mayor, vice mayor, DILG and NCIP.
Among those invited to the council were Cordillera People’s Alliance vice chair  JillCarino and Kathleen Okubo, great granddaughters of Kafagway Chieftain Mateo Carino, and Evelyn Afidchao Miranda of Mountain Province.
The group reiterated in the City Council their appreciation to the IP migrants in Baguio City for issuing a resolution that pushed and expressed support for the Ibaloys to sit as IPMR in the council, in recognition of the original inhabitants of Baguio.
Former Punong Barangay and Happy Hallow elders Joseph Sacley and Soriano Palonan also supported the selection process and wished the city council passed the proposed ordinance.
The Baguio IP migrants’ resolution was signed during the Cordillera Elders Assembly held last August 29-30, 2016 at the Benguet State University by around 160 participants from the different provinces.
Participants included the Cordillera Tribal Elders and Leaders represented by Ms. Miranda, consisting of personalities from Benguet, Mountain Province and Kalinga.
The workshop was held in collaboration with the CPA, National Economic and Development Authority - CAR, University of the Philippines Baguio and the Cordillera Administrative Region Association of State Universities and Colleges (CARASUC).
The resolution called on the NCIP to support the selection of the IPMR for Baguio City through a process determined by the Ibaloy and to certify that the tribal member is the duly selected IPMR for Baguio City.
             It also called on the City Council to pass a resolution supporting the selection process as determined by the Ibaloys and to pass a city ordinance appropriating the necessary funds for the IPMR to sit in the City Council.
             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.

Justice Holmes’ recognition of the Native Title based on the situation of ancestral lands in Baguio eventually led to the crafting of the IPRA in 1997. – March Fianza


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