Affirm Sinot as IPMR / Public hearings needed on BLISTTDA

>> Thursday, March 23, 2017

Alfred P. Dizon

BAGUIO CITY – Indigenous folks of this so-called city of pines are wondering why National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Cordillera regional director Roland Calde has not yet issued a certificate of affirmation on the election of Roger D. Sinot as indigenous peoples mandatory representative in the city council.
Basing from a NCIP review committee Calde himself created (see banner story in page 1 for more details), the election of Sinot was in order as all NCIP, legal and indigenous processes were followed.
But still, Calde didn’t issue the certificate for unknown reasons considering other IPMRs in Cordillera were affirmed by the NCIP fast after their election. Is politics involved here? Who is pulling the bogey strings?
We received word the NCIP commission en banc will tackle the issue here this week where maybe, Calde could explain why he delayed affirmation of Sinot as IPMR.
Five months have lapsed since Sinot’s election and still Calde has not issued the certification that even city councilors are wondering why up to now, he still has not done so.
It would indeed be an injustice to indigenous folks in Baguio who have long waited to have their representative in the city council (so their concerns would be heard) if Sinot’s election as IPMR is not affirmed sooner by the NCIP regional director. 
Apo director, pagtugawen yu metten a ti IPMT representative ti Baguio. As the kankanaeys say – inayan.
A former college professor, Sinot is one of the most active, sincere and and concerned Ibaloys who had been fighting for indigenous people’s rights particularly Ibaloys who had been disenfranchised of their lands by greedy land speculators of Baguio
He deserves the NCIP affirmation as indigenous people’s mandatory representative in the Baguio City Council. Let the NCIP not get tainted with politics.
As to the four detractors of Sinot’s affirmation, here is an unsolicited piece of advice: It is not late in the day to stop protesting considering the review committee found out the process was done in accordance with laws, regulations and indigenous tradition. For the good of everybody, let Sinot sit as IPMR and maybe, he could endorse anyone of you to sit as IPMR after his term.
Rep. Mark Go has already filed House Bill No. 1554 creating the Baguio City, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sublan, Tuba and Tublay Development Authority (BLISTTDA). The House committee on government enterprises and privatization has recently approved it.
According to Go, principal author of the bill, creation of BLISTTDA intends to centralize and oversee development of the city and nearby municipalities of Benguet.
The proposed BLISTTDA shall exercise regulatory and supervisory authority over the delivery of area-wide services within the city and municipalities without diminution of the autonomy of the local government units concerning purely local matters, said Go.
“This shall include services of development planning like urban renewal, land use planning and housing and shelter formulation, as well as transport and traffic management, solid waste disposal and management, flood control and sewerage management, water resource system, health and sanitation, pollution control and public safety and order, among others,” Go added.
A report by the Philippine Information Agency said mayors Ignacio Rivera of Tuba, Victorio Palangdan of Itogon and Arthur Baldo of Sablan  were present during the committee hearing to express their support to the proposed law. 
Palangdan was quoted as saying Baguio City is overcrowded and the only expansion now for development are municipalities around it, and the BLISTTDA will address concerns.
But this early, it seems there are cracks in the measure considering some Benguet councilors are saying they were not consulted and that Go acted like a chief executive officer (CEO) when he drafted the bill. They said they were not given copies of the draft bill so they could have deliberated on this and made suggestions for inclusion in its provisions.  
According to the councilors, there were no public hearings conducted in their towns before the bill was made. They said, the people were not consulted – a needed essence of democracy. 
It is still not late for Go to initiate public hearings on the matter in affected Benguet towns and Baguio City so House Bill No. 1554 would be amended if there is need to do so.
He should also conduct information drives in affected areas so the public would be informed of its provisions. He could also use tri-media particularly newspapers (as the issue could be written in detail) to do this and print copies of the bill for distribution to the public.
Observers are saying if he will not do these, more criticism could follow, since as early as this time, pundits are saying he is only the congressman of Baguio -- not the affected towns of Benguet.

They said since Go is a first-term congressman-politician, he is advised to shed off his rich, elitist image and bring himself down to the masses or he would be just like that --  a one-time congressman considering elections are just two years away.


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