June 24, 2024

After seven years, the Commission on Audit has granted the claim of the former indigenous people’s mandatory representative (IPMR) of La Trinidad, Benguet of over a million pesos in unpaid salaries and benefits when he served at the municipal council.
The COA, in a decision released on Jan. 31, stated Marcelo Abela is entitled to P1,034at637.66 when he served at the municipal council representing the La Trinidad Indigenous Peoples Organization.
This covers the unpaid salaries, allowances, and other benefits as an IPMR from October 8, 2014 to Dec. 31, 2015.
The COA has upheld the validity of Abela’s claim citing National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Administrative Order 1 s. 1998 and Department of the Interior and Local Government Memorandum Circular 2010-119.
Under the AO and MC, an IPMR is entitled to the same privileges as regular members of the municipal council.
In its counter-affidavit, the La Trinidad Legal Office claimed that Abela served as IPMR knowing the position was voluntary and came without compensation.
It added Abela is estopped from pursuing his claim since he failed to assert his entitlement to a salary during deliberations for a supplemental budget in which he participated.
The Municipal Finance Committee also stated the compensation for the IP representative was not included in the executive budgets for 2014 and 2015 hence, there was no funding for Abela’s pay.
COA Chair Michael Aguinaldo and Commissioner Roland Pondoc upheld the validity of Abela’s claim.
Abela took his oath of office on Oct. 2, 2014 but his assumption was opposed by the town’s council of leaders and elders in a petition furnished by the League of Barangays.
The petition of the council of elders claimed lack of notice during the selection of the IPMR. The petition also indicated the required process in selecting the town’s IP representative was not followed.
Despite the petition, Abela was allowed by the municipal council to perform his duties as IPMR but he was not given his salaries and other benefits for the whole year of 2015.
In 2016, the NCIP-Cordillera denied the petitions against Abela and affirmed him as the IPMR. – Ofelia C. Empian