November 29, 2022

Chief executives in 67 local governments have been directed by Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to comply with a provision of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, which mandates mandatory representation of indigenous peoples in local legislative councils.

Of the 67, two are provinces, 14 are municipalities, and 51 barangays.

In the Cordillera, Barangay Kayan West in Tadian, Mountain Province and Kabayan Barrio, Kabayan, Benguet were identified as those still without an indigenous peoples mandatory representative.

Año gave non-compliant LGUs until May 5 to submit an explanation on why they have yet to install an IP mandatory representative (IPMR).

Inquiry at the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera showed that Kayan West already has an IPMR but has yet to be submit some documents before the NCIP can issue a certificate of affirmation.

For Kabayan Barrio, the NCIP has conducted information and education campaign on the selection of an IPMR in 2019 but the process of selection has been postponed because of the lockdown in 2020.

“Ang mga karapatan ng mga IP ay nasa batas. Sila ay bahagi ng ating kasaysayan at kultura. Hayaan natin silang lumahok sa ating mga gawaing pangkomunidad at pakinggan ang kanilang panig sa mga usaping pang-LGU,”Año said.

Año said among issues on IP representation in sanggunians are no fund allocation for salaries of IPMR and non-recognition of IPMRs by higher levels of LGUs.

Año issued the directive upon receiving a letter from NCIP Chairperson Allen Capuyan who said there are 67 LGUs with issues on the acceptance of IPMRs as well as a list of 530 other LGUs that are qualified for IPMR representation but still do not have IPMRs.

There are several unfilled IPMR seats in the city and municipal levels in the region but there are pending cases regarding these.

In his letter, Capuyan said that while the number of LGUs with issues on IP representation has decreased, he hopes that resistance to IP representation will become “a thing of the past” and the IPRA will be fully                                      implemented.

At the Baguio City council, the committee on indigenous peoples and cultural communities has just been created. 

The committee is the latest addition to the 15 existing committees.

The chair of the committee shall be automatically included as a member of the committee on urban planning, lands, and housing and the committee on education, culture, creative and research. 

The resolution underscored the need to create a separate standing committee in view of the uniqueness of the circumstances surrounding matters and issues of IP communities.

The council also said that in both houses of Congress, there is a committee for IP concerns.

Creation of the new committee stemmed from the request of Mayor Benjamin Magalong for the city council to create an IP committee to be able to qualify for the Seal of Good Local Governance of the DILG.

Recently, an IP affairs focal person has been designated under the City Planning and Development Office pursuant to a council resolution passed in 2020.

However, this does not comply with the standards set by the SGLG for Social Protection and Sensitivity Governance. – Rimaliza A. Opiña with reports from Jordan G. Habbiling