Baguio council tribal rep mess elevated to NCIP nat’l heads

>> Sunday, October 22, 2017

Regional director ‘inhibits’ from proceedings 

BAGUIO CITY – The decision on the controversial non-issuance of the certificate of affirmation by Cordillera National Commission on Indigenous Peoples regional director Roland Calde to the indigenous peoples mandatory representative-elect in Baguio was elevated to the NCIP Central Office      
This, after NCIP regional director Roland Calde reportedly sent a “status report” Oct. 16 to NCIP Chairperson lawyer Leonor Oralde-Quintayo saying he was inhibiting himself from the issue and asking the Central Office to decide on the matter.
Rocky Ngalob, regional NCIP information officer bared this Thursday saying their Central Office has not yet responded to the report.
Ngalob said Calde asked the NCIP Chairperson and Legal Department that he inhibit himself from the case considering Baguio IPMR-elect Roger D. Sinot had filed a case against him with the Ombudsman for not issuing the certificate of affirmation to the latter so he could sit as member of the Baguio City Council.     
Copies of the status report were reportedly furnished to NCIP Executive Director Rogelio Bantayan Jr., Commissioner for Cordillera and Region 1 Basilio Wandag, Sinot, Moises Cating, Gaspar Cayat, NCIP Legal Affairs Office, Baguio City Council and NCIP Office of Empowerment and Human Rights.
But as of Friday, Sinot said he did not receive yet a copy of the “status report.”
Cating, an Ibaloi lawyer and Cayat, who said he represented the Kalanguya tribe questioned earlier Sinot’s selection but they were told during an assembly of IPs initiated by the regional NCIP on Oct. 8 that all legal and indigenous processes were followed and done on the matter.           
Other sources said Wandag earlier told Calde to elevate the matter to the NCIP Central Office considering facts of the matter.
With this, Ngalob said the “final general assembly of Baguio indigenous peoples to discuss the matter as reported in a local newspaper quoting Calde won’t be held anymore as the matter is now in the hands of their central office.”
This, after members of the largest indigenous peoples organizations in the Cordillera and this summer capital slammed the regional NCIP for saying earlier it will hold another “final general assembly” among indigenous groups here to solve the controversy regarding the ascension to office of Sinot as Baguio IPMR
A statement was released earlier by the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA), Cordillera Elders Alliance (CEA), Tongtongan ti Umili (TTU) Metro-Baguio Tribal Elders and Leaders Assembly (MBTELA) here Oct. 6 urging the NCIP to issue the certificate of affirmation to Sinot so he could assume office.
The groups assailed the alleged plan of Calde as reported in a local newspaper to hold the assembly saying it was an insult to all tribal peoples and elders who earlier held a series of information dissemination drives and meetings which resulted to the election of Sinot November last year.
The meetings were affirmed by the NCIP.
The NCIP Baguio office, legal and fact-finding team of the government agency and two assemblies of tribal elders and leaders had attested to the legality of procedures done more than a year ago which led to the selection of the Baguio IPMR.    
Despite this, the regional NCIP pushed through with a so-called meeting of IPs on Oct. 7 reportedly to elect a new IPMR but this did not materialize as Sinot’s supporters said an election was held already and Sinot was elected.
A news report said Sinot’s supporters “walked out of the meeting on Oct. 7 because their plan to have the proceedings questioned did not succeed.”
But this was not the case. MBTELA president Evelyn Miranda said they didn’t walk out as reported. “We (Sinot supporters) went out because the meeting was over and we were hungry since it was past 1 p.m. Besides, organizers of the assembly did not see to it that all will be given lunch.”
She said only a few people were given tickets who could avail of the packed lunch. 
Miranda said those who walked out were the people reportedly brought by the camp of two Ibaloi lawyers who were interested in the position. “After they (lawyers’ minions) ate, they left.”
Most of the supposed supporters of the lawyers were reportedly miners at the Loakan area here and some house helpers who were enticed to attend and were told they will have “something good” if they will come. The miners were reportedly told that their mining concerns would be discussed.
A land claimant was also reportedly told that they will discuss his land application. “Sabali met gayam pagsasawan (What was being talked about was different), he said and left.        
During the assembly, it was known there were only a purported representative of a tribal group and the two lawyers who wanted to derail the assumption of Sinot to the city council as IPMR since they themselves wanted the position.
The three didn’t insist on another election for the IPMR after Sinot and the council of elders told them an election was held already and the right process was done.
Earlier during the meeting, the group of Sinot complained the NCIP official who was purportedly tasked by Calde to preside over proceedings identified as Abeline Cerilo, head of NCIP Itogon Service Center didn’t give enough time to them to explain circumstances and processes which led to Sinot’s election.
A supporter of one of the lawyers even took the microphone from Miranda while she was saying the Ibalois should unite considering other tribal groups have signified their support for the first Ibaloi IPMR in Baguio.
This made Sinot and the original Council of Elders to insist that their side should be heard.
The Sinot camp questioned the resolution of a so-called Council of Elders revoking his selection as the city’s IPMR saying there were only eight out of the 24 purported members that signed the resolution which actually did not constitute a quorum.
Isabelo Cosalan, head of the original Council of Elders said those who signed the resolution against Sinot were fake COEls.
Cosalan said they were the genuine COEls having been sworn in at least three times and at one time by Mayor Mauricio Domogan.
Cosalan, an Ibaloi, was former Cordillera regional director of the Dept. of Transportation and Communications and National Telecommunications Office.      
According to the news report, Calde said, “The problem on the city’s IPMR is that it created division among the IPs in the different barangays to the extent that family members and relatives are divided on who will be actually representing the IPs in the local legislative body.”
Representatives of IP groups however said it was Calde who sowed disunity among tribal folks for not issuing the needed certificate of affirmation to Sinot so he could sit as IPMR in the city council.
Sinot’s supporters said Calde put the NCIP in a bad light since he was even earlier asked by NCIP Chairperson Quintayo to issue the certificate of affirmation to Sinot during an en banc meeting here a few months back at Hotel Supreme.  
The city council earlier decided to ask Calde to appear before the local legislative body and explain the controversy regarding the IPMR but do date, has not attended their session.
Meanwhile, the IP groups appealed once more to the NCIP regional and national leadership to issue the certificate of affirmation to Sinot so he could assume office as IPMR.  

They said the IPs of Baguio were being deprived of representation in the city council so they could air their concerns considering the certificate of affirmation has not yet been issued to Sinot so he could assume office as IPMR in the city’s legislative body.   


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