June 21, 2024

Indigenous peoples in Baguio will select a new representative to the city council in anticipation of the issuance of updated guidelines in the selection of indigenous peoples mandatory representative (IPMR) by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.
Onjon ni Ivadoy president Max Edwin Bugnay said an IP organization called the First Citizens of Baguio composed of elders of the Kalanguya, Kankana-ey, and Ibaloy ethnic groups in Baguio has been formed to represent the duly recognized ancestral domain and ancestral land owners.
The Onjon ni Ivadoy is the biggest organization of Ibaloys in Baguio.
Bugnay said the IPO, which unified the major ethnolinguistic groups in Baguio, was formed to avoid a repeat of the past selection of IPMR where some groups complained that they were excluded from the selection. This resulted in the filing of disqualification case against Roger Sinot, Sr. who was selected IPMR in 2016. The case is pending in court.
Sinot Sr., who took his oath in 2018, never assumed as councilor when the court issued an injunction order preventing him from seating as ex-officio member of the city council.
With the mounting concerns affecting IPs of Baguio, Bugnay said the First Citizens of Baguio Organization is hoping to select a representative this year.
In the meeting of the Onjon ni Ivadoy last Feb. 2, members lamented the absence of a representative who could have raised their concerns to concerned authorities and agencies.
Among these concerns are the allocation of portions of Camp John Hay by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority for the construction a new Justice Hall, non-recognition that Happy Hallow as an ancestral domain, and filing of cases for the cancellation of ancestral land titles or claims.
According to Adon Carantes, spokesperson of the Carantes clan, an original Ibaloy family in Baguio, agencies that are supposed to be at the forefront of recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples are the ones exploiting them.
“An IPMR could have articulated our concerns to the concerned authorities but we do not have a representative,” a member of the Onjon said.
The NCIP-Cordillera is presently updating the local guidelines in the selection of IPMR in compliance with Administrative Order 3 s. 2018 that directed NCIP regional offices to harmonize local guidelines with the revised national guidelines.
The First Citizens of Baguio earlier assailed the provision of AO that said only those within an ancestral domain may select an IPMR. Only Barangay Happy Hallow is the recognized ancestral domain in Baguio, while the rest of the IPs live outside the domain.
In the harmonized guidelines, ancestral domain owners and ancestral land owners may participate in the selection of IPMR said NCIP-Cordiller Legal Officer.
The NCIP-Cordillera has yet to cascade the final guidelines to the concerned IPs but he also hopes that by this year, a Baguio IPMR would have been chosen.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong earlier asked the city council to form a committee on indigenous peoples in lieu of an IPMR.
Baguio has not been qualified in the selection for the Seal of Good Local Governance for failing to meet one of the assessment tools which is on social protection and sensitivity governance, which include absence of an IP representative in the local council. – Rimaliza A. Opiña