Groups to NCIP: Confirm Baguio City council IP rep

>> Thursday, March 23, 2017

NCIP staff to director: Delay is injustice 

BAGUIO CITY – Indigenous peoples here urged the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples to issue certificate of affirmation to duly selected indigenous peoples mandatory representative to the city council here saying delaying it more would be an injustice particularly to native folk of Baguio.
                They said it’s been five months already since Roger D. Sinot was elected as IP representative to the city council, but until now, regional NCIP director Roland P. Calde has not issued the certification.
Sinot, an Ibaloi, is a former college professor, whose forefathers belonged to the indigenous group of Baguio natives centuries ago.
                He had also been at the forefront of fighting for indigenous peoples rights like in addressing issue of ancestral lands being grabbed by unscrupulous persons.
                The Commission en banc headed by NCIP Chairperson Leonor Kintayu who will hold a meeting here tomorrow (Monday) was urged to act on the matter considering Calde had allegedly not been acting on it.
A special regional review body on indigenous peoples – Baguio city community service center (NCIP Baguio CSC) upheld legality of Sinot’s election as IP representative.
                Calde created the review body following protest from four personalities who said the process was irregular.
The body found out the process in Sinot’s election followed rules and regulations in conformity to government laws, NCIP guidelines and indigenous tradition.
                Lawyer Harriet N. Abyadang, regional NCIP OIC legal officer who also heads the government agency’s Baguio office and all her staff wrote Calde in a letter dated March 7, 2017 confirming “all processes in selection of Sinot were in order” contrary to allegations of three or four personalities from the Kalanguya and Kankanaey tribes.
                They said notices on selection of IP representative and guidelines were posted in all city barangays, published in a newspaper of general circulation since October 2016.
                The same was also announced through radio while letter invitations were personally delivered by members of the council of elders/leaders of ancestral lands claimants.
                Invitation letters containing schedule of activities and request for an inspiration message were also sent to Mayor Mauricio Domogan, the city council through Vice Mayor Edison Bilog, NCIP Ethnographic Commissioner for Cordillera Administrative Region and Region 1 lawyer Basilio Wandag and Calde as Cordillera NCIP director.
                Abyadang and NCIP staff said series of public consultations had also been held on the issue thus on Nov. 4, 2016, IPMR aspirant/nominees were identified: Jackson Chiday, Basilio Binay-an, Phillip Canuto, Vicky Macay and Sinot.
Sinot was later elected and proclaimed first IPMR for Baguio.
The activity ended with a show of support by other aspirants with Sinot’s message of gratitude and appeal for continued support.
                From November 2016 to date it was learned Calde still didn’t issue the certificate of affirmation so Sinot could sit as member of the Baguio City Council.
                This, despite a resolution of Baguio Ancestral Land Claimants Executive Council of Elders received Feb. 5, 2017 by regional NCIP office urging Calde to issue the certificate saying “guidelines in selection of the IPMR were already promulgated and the same should be respected, upheld, observed and applied in the case.”
                Elders said under section 7 of guidelines, “only a losing, volunteer/ nominee can file a protest and that the sole ground is “failure of the plenary session to observe and conduct the plenary session according to customary consensus.”
                Elders added the lone protest was a violation of guidelines and should have been dismissed outright.”
Elders who signed the resolution in favor of Sinot included former Tuba, Benguet mayor Jose P. Baluda, former Dept. of Transportation and Communications Cordillera regional director Isabelo Cosalan Sr. who also headed later the regional National Telecommunications Commission, journalist David March L. Fianza, Philip Canuto, Michael Alos, Margarita Dong-e, Marie S. Kitma, Pancho Alinos, Jose Kani, Leilia Cuilan, Mario Vicente, Nheil S. Endrano and nominees Jackson Chiday and Basilio Binay-an.
                A copy of the resolution was sent to the NCIP central office in Manila.
                Following Sinot’s election, protesters Paul B. Pasigon and Gaspar Cayat said they were not informed of the selection process while lawyer Manuel Cuilan and Joselito Shontogan said there were irregularities in the process.
This, despite Cuilan having  reportedly attended drafting of guidelines and even acted as presiding officer.
In the end Abyadang and NCIP staff in their letter told Calde “refusing to address the issue is a mockery of a duly facilitated process in favor of a few personalities” (protesters). “Refusing to address the issue is delaying and in effect delaying the representation of ICCs/IPs to the City council of Baguio.”
                The Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance, the largest indigenous organization in the Cordillera with members worldwide had affirmed their support for Sinot.
                Among other groups, the Autonomy Movement in the Administrative Cordillera made also a letter of endorsement for Sinot as IP representative.
                It was signed by Bartolome Sacla Jr., Benguet coordinator and Benedict L. Ballug, its president and national coordinator.
                The selection of the Baguio IP representative came about after city councilor Art Allad-iw made a resolution mandating inclusion of an IP representative in the city council as mandated by law.
                The city council ratified the resolution.

                This, as sources at the regional NCIP office told the Northern Philippine Times Calde was in Manila at press time and has not yet made a comment on the letter of Abyadang and staff urging him to take action on the matter.   


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