NCIP chair: Affirm Sinot as Baguio City council rep

>> Monday, October 9, 2017

QUEZON CITY – National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Commission Chairperson Leonor T. Oralde Quintayo said here the certificate of affirmation should now be issued to Roger D. Sinot, Baguio City indigenous peoples mandatory representative-elect to sit as member of the Baguio City Council.     
“It would be shameful to the NCIP if the certificate of affirmation would not be issued,” Quintayo said when Sinot, Metro Baguio Tribal Elders and Leaders Assembly (MB-TELA) president Evelyn A. Miranda and Jose Baluda, president of I-Baguio Ancestral Land Claimants of Early Baguio and former Tuba. Benguet mayor submitted to her office Sept. 29 voluminous documents attesting to legality of processes leading to Sinot’s selection as IPMR.
               She said she, along with the NCIP Executive Director Rogelio Francisco M. Bantayan Jr. will talk with Cordillera regional acting director Roland Calde on the matter.
Quintayo said since veracity and legality of processes had been certified by the Baguio NCIP office, legal department, review committee and by the Council of Elders, there is no reason anymore for Calde to withhold the certificate of affirmation.  
This, as Basilio Wandag, NCIP commissioner for Cordillera and Region 1 said he had earlier told Calde to act on whether he will issue or not issue an IPMR so merits of the controversy could be acted upon. He said it was not good on the part of the NCIP to delay the process.
Leaders and elders of tribal groups here including members of the militant Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance, the biggest indigenous group in the region earlier urged the NCIP to issue the certificate of affirmation to Sinot.
Sinot was elected November last year as IPMR to the city council but Calde has refused to issue the certification without offering plausible explanations or making written recommendations so the former could assume office as Baguio IPMR.
Considering this, around 200 MB-TELA and CPA members held a dialogue with the city council during its regular session on Sept. 25 wherein Vice Mayor Edison Bilog said the legislative body will look into the matter.
              This after MB-TELA leaders said the IPMRs of the Benguet provincial government, Tuba and La Trinidad towns of the province, Paracelis and Sagada town of Mountain Province and Kalinga provincial government assumed office as IPMRs even without certificates of affirmation issued by Calde.
On Sept. 24, the MB-TELA’s council of elders headed by Isabelo Cosalan, former Cordillera regional director of the National Telecommunications Commission administered the oath of office to Sinot at the Indigenous Peoples Center along Burnham Park.
Elders of the group said they were resorting to “people’s initiative” to install Sinot to office since Calde refused to issue the certification and such action is provided for by the Philippine Constitution if government officials refuse to take action on certain issues like the controversy on the IPMR. |  
The MB-TELA, during their sixth general assembly earlier made a resolution August 8 at the Ibaloy Heritage Garden here in Burnham Park to make Sinot sit as IPMR.
“Section 16 of the IPRA Law states, among others, that the selection of an IPMR is a right of the IPs to participate at all levels of decision making in matters which may affect their rights, lives and destinies through procedures determined by them as well as maintain and develop their own indigenous political structures,” the resolution said.
“The NCIP is mandated to empower the IPs/ICCs through the said law including provisions of other pertinent and related laws particular to their rights which necessitates information education campaign and also by seeing to it that such rights are enforced and asserted.
The resolution said the Baguio City Community Service Center of the NCIP-CAR that conducted the selection process of the Baguio City IPMR, submitted a detailed report on conduct of the IEC and selection process and certifying regularity and validity of the selection process.
“All pertinent guidelines were adequately adhered to and complied with and hence strongly recommending for the issuance of the Certificate of Affirmation. A copy of the entire report is in the possession of the secretariat.”
               The MB-TELA said in the resolution they went through all documents and heard testimonies regarding the entire IPMR issue and found that Sinot should sit as IPMR.
These included Resolution No, 15, series of 2016, dated No. 15, 2016 of the Executive Council of the Elders of the Baguio Ancestral Land Claimants manifesting their strong support for the duly selected IPMR.
               Another was a resolution of the Cordillera Elders Alliance, dated August 30, 2017, strongly supporting the endorsement that the first IPMR of Baguio City should come from the original Iballoy/Ivadoy tribe of Baguio City.
A position paper of the Baguio Service Center of the NCIP-CAR had also attested that Sinot’s selection was in order.
             The MB-TELA also cited in their resolution a “report of the Special Regional Review Body constituted by no less than the NCIP-CAR Regional Director himself with Atty. Severino Manuel G. Lumiqued as the team leader and other competent NCIP officials as members.”
Said review body was tasked to review the conducted selection process and to look into the protests/complaints and make appropriate action, the resolution added.
              “The Review Body, in their report dated Feb. 6, 2017, clearly states that the selection process is in order. As far as the protests/complaints are concerned, the body avers that in the very first place the protestants do not have the personality to protest because they are not volunteers or nominees as stipulated in the local guidelines. Hence, they recommend that the certificate of affirmation be issued to Roger D. Sinot as the duly selected IPMR of Baguio City.”
              The report of the selected Council of Elders dated July 14, 2017 tasked to talk with Roger D. Sinot anent the allegations hurled against him said these were baseless and recommended that the certificate of affirmation be issued to the duly selected IPMR.
“The Baguio City IPs/ICCs feel that the unreasonable delay and inaction of the NCIP-CAR is denying their most coveted representation to the City Council. The indecisiveness of the regional director is also causing mistrust and divisiveness among the IPs of Baguio City,” the MB-TEAL resolution said.
             They resolved that the NCIP regional director immediately issue the certificate of affirmation to Sinot.
             “Further delays are unforgivable and unacceptable already to these Baguio migrant IPs and the original Iballoy ancestral land claimants. Justice delayed is justice denied,” the resolution said.
The MB-TELA resolved that a copy of the resolution with all pertinent documents be submitted to the Chairman of the NCIP for her perusal and appropriate action.
              The correctness of the resolution was certified by MB-TELA president Evelyn Afidchao Miranda, vice president Reynaldo B. Suello and  secretary Myrna C. Valdez.
Despite these, Calde reportedly told Baguio tribal elders who went to see him in his office to issue the certificate to Sinot that his “hands are tied.” He did not elaborate. 

              This, as Sinot through his lawyer was set at press time to ask a local court to issue a temporary restraining order against a handful of individuals who were reportedly trying to derail the affirmation of Sinot as they were interested in the position.  


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