January 29, 2023

Guidelines on the selection of the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) to the city council of Baguio City are set to be reformulated and finalized in a general assembly of IPs in the city on July 5.

NCIP-Cordillera Director, Atty. Atanacio Addog told the city council during its regular session on June 20 the July 5 assembly to be facilitated by the NCIP intends to finalize the local IPMR selection guidelines as well as the names of nominees as IPMR and the selectors.

He said the local guidelines must first be finalized and ratified by the general assembly as it will be the basis for the identification of the nominees and the selectors.

Addog said the city’s current IPMR selection guidelines need to be reformulated to make it in harmony or in accordance with the provisions of the latest national IPMR guidelines issued in 2021.

The NCIP central and regional offices had directed the NCIP Baguio to assist in the reformulation of the local guidelines that were used during the selection of Roger Sinot Sr. as IPMR in 2016.

The NCIP earlier conducted and information and education campaign on the IPM representation and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act last April 25 at the Ibaloy Heritage Garden as a preliminary activity, and to be followed by the finalization of the local selection guidelines and the determination of nominees and selectors in the selection on July 5.

Addog has informed the city council the city will proceed with the activity but not with the IPMR selection itself yet, pending the lifting of the suspension of IPMR selection.

He said IPMR selection is indefinitely suspended nationwide after the NCIP central office suspended the same following reports reaching the office there were some selected IPMRs who have been manifesting superiority over their constituent IPs and indigenous cultural communities (ICCs).

In assisting and documenting the July 5 assembly, Addog said NCIP will see to it the reformulated local guidelines are in harmony with the national IPMR guidelines provisions, and that the decision-making or the selection process itself to be formulated is in accordance with the customs and traditions of the ICCs.

“According to the national guidelines, the primacy of local practices is primordial in the conduct of the selection process. It respects the customary laws of the ICCs/IPs in the selection of the IPMR,” Addog said.

He added all concerned IPs, including the First Citizens of Baguio Organization and the Onjon ni Ivadoy and Sinot, are invited to attend the general assembly.

First Citizens president, Atty. Michael Quilan and Onjon president Maximo Edwin Bugnay, Jr. manifested to join and have submitted their respective lists of nominees and selectors.

Quilan said First Citizens of Baguio represents the Ibaloy, Kalanguya, and Kankana-ey ethno-linguistic groups, which, he claimed, were excluded during the 2016 IPMR selection.

Addog added based on the 2021 national revised IPMR selection guidelines, selecting an IPMR to the city council is mandatory in local government units where there are ancestral domains and ancestral lands.

IPMRs shall be selected from among the qualified traditional or actual owners of ancestral domains or lands. If there are none, use of the minimum threshold as provided in the 2011 joint memorandum circular of NCIP and Department of the Interior and Local Government shall apply.

In the case of Baguio, since there are ancestral domains and lands, IPMR is mandatory and shall come from the owners of ancestral lands and domains in the city, whether or not with issued certificate of ancestral land domain title, pursuant to Section 6(a) of the 2021 Revised National IPMR Guidelines, among other provisions.

In situations where resettled or migrant IPs are residing in ancestral domains or lands for more than 10 years and exceed the number of ancestral domain land owners, the former may participate in the drafting of local guidelines, can be included as nominees for consideration in the selection process, provided that the concerned NCIP regional office through its field office shall assist in the formation of local guidelines to safeguard the rights of ancestral domain owners and protect the primacy of their customary laws.

It is provided further that a term agreement will be arranged that ICCs/IPs may deem suited and applicable to address cultural peculiarities in any given LGU, ensuring however that the term agreement does not affect the fixed term of three years of the IPMR.

In order to be included, migrant IPs shall make known their intention by filing a petition with the community to the indigenous political structure copy furnished the NCIP.

For purposes of determining whether or not the resettled IPs comply with the population and residency requirement, a census shall be conducted by the concerned community service center or provincial office or regional office.

Addog said the office has not conducted a census of migrant/resettled IPs yet since the petition has to be filed by the concerned IPs and their community must give its consent.

He added the July 5 general assembly is open to all IPs in the city but attention will be afforded the three ethno-linguistic groups of the city because they are ancestral domain and landowners while other IPs may be there to observe.

In the case of Baguio, nominees and selectors will come from the Ibaloy, Kankana-ey and Kalanguya groups, while the IPMR selection, once the suspension is lifted, may be done through customary laws.

The IPMR who will be eventually selected, Addog clarified, should represent all other IPs in the city, whether they are natives or migrant. – Hanna C. Lacsamana