by Jimmy K. Laking
The council of elders and leaders of La Trinidad will conduct this Monday a general assembly in a bid to resolve the assumption of Marcelo Abela as the indigenous people’s mandatory representative (IPMR) to the municipal council.
“Notices have been distributed to the council of elders and leaders, including Abela himself,” said Teddy Quintos, chair of the league of barangays and ex-officio member of the municipal council.
Quintos said the assembly will decide whether or not to acknowledge Abela whose assumption as the town’s IPMR is opposed by members of the council of elders on the ground that his selection failed to follow due process.
The municipal council, chaired by Vice Mayor Romeo Salda, had earlier referred to the town’s council of leaders and elders the responsibility of resolving the opposition against Abela.
Salda said it was up to the council of elders and leaders if it wants to recall or retain Abela as IPMR.
The municipal council has accepted Abela as the IPMR based on his affirmation by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.
A petition handed by the town’s council of leaders and elders to the League of Barangays revealed that at least five or six of La Trinidad’s barangays were excluded in the process of selecting Abela as IPMR.
Quinto indicated the required process in selecting the town’s IPMR was not followed.
The petitioners pressed for a review or investigation on the selection of Abela as IPMR even as they called on authorities to hold in abeyance his recognition.
Abela said his selection was reaffirmed by the NCIP regional director in accordance with guidelines.
He said nowhere in the guidelines did it state that all barangays should be represented in the selection process, adding that representatives of 12 out of the 16 barangays were present in his selection.
An NCIP report revealed that only 20 people were present when Abela was selected as IPMR and that the draft local guideline was not followed.
Abela added that NCIP records showed that he had no accountability on the P1.2-million waterworks project in Barangay Shilan while those opposed to his selection said he failed to come up with a status report of the project that was supposed to have been implemented under his watch as president of the IP organization.
Barangay officials said the project was never completed as to be functional.