June 24, 2024

The Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal from government service of the former director of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera for grave misconduct over the selection of the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of Baguio City.

In the decision penned March 29 by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer III Lauren Gail Divino-Sudweste, former NCIP-CAR Director Roland Calde was found liable for grave misconduct and meted with the penalty of dismissal from the service plus cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service.

Calde is current the director of NCIP-Central Luzon.

The case stemmed from the complaints filed by Roger Sinot Sr., IPMR of Baguio.

The first complaint filed on June 30, 2017 accused Calde of grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct, and ignorance of the law.

In his second complaint filed on Dec. 28, 2017, Sinot accused Calde and Abilene Cirilo, community development officer 3 of NCIP Itogon sub-office, of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

Sinot was selected IPMR of Baguio in 2016 – the same year he took his oath but never assumed office due to petitions filed by other indigenous peoples’ groups questioning his qualifications and the alleged flawed selection process.

Sinot maintained in his first complaint that he is the duly-selected IPMR but when he asked Calde to issue a certificate of affirmation, the latter refused because “he is discriminating against him and is favoring candidates from another group.”

Calde denied the allegations stating that after the selection of Sinot as IPMR, his office received a protest alleging several irregularities in the selection process.

A special body was formed to review the selection process but this was referred to NCIP-Baguio Officer-in-Charge Harriet Abyadang. The latter then submitted a report stating the selection process was valid and regular.

Calde then directed Cirilo to facilitate the settlement of the issues through customary practices between IPs of Baguio. This resulted in the signing of a letter signed by nine members of a 25-man council of elders from different IP groups stating they are against the confirmation of Sinot as IPMR of the city.

Sinot’s second complaint alleged that Calde committed grave misconduct when he asked hydropower and mining companies to sponsor the 20th Indigenous People’s Rights Act anniversary celebration.  

In the decision, Sudweste said Calde is liable for grave misconduct for unduly delaying the issuance of certificate of affirmation to Sinot.

The decision stated Calde transgressed the guidelines on the mandatory representation of IPs in the city council when he created a review body on the selection process.

“It appears that respondent Calde steadfastly refused to issue the certificate in favor of the complainant despite the favorable recommendation by the review body, OIC Abyadang, and the NCIP central office. His only justification for refusing to issue said certificate was the appeal-protest and his claim that all indigenous cultural communities /IPs should have been represented, which matters were already settled by the NCIP central office in favor of the complainant,” a portion of the decision stated.

The decision dismissed the other complaints against Calde for lack of evidence. The complaints against Cirilo were also dismissed as he only acted on the memorandum issued to him by Calde. – Ofelia C. Empian