July 25, 2024

The Ombudsman has been asked to issue a preventive suspension against two executives of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples pending their cases of misconduct and corruption.

In a motion filed on April 15, members of the Bago ethnic group and two residents in Sison, Pangasinan have asked the Ombudsman to immediately issue an order to preventively suspend NCIP Commissioner for Region 1 and Cordillera Gaspar Cayat and NCIP Chairman Allen Capuyan from holding office.

The motion stated the preventive suspension would avert the NCIP executives from pre-empting the cases filed against them and will not manipulate the ombudsman’s office in making a decision.

Cayat and Capuyan are facing cases of grave misconduct, malfeasance and violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act for the issuance of the certificate of non-overlap to the Northern Cement Corporation (NCC) to renew and expand its operation in Labayug, Sison, Pangasinan.

Many of the affected residents, who are members of the Bago ethnic group, trace their roots to the Cordillera, especially Benguet.

The complainants said the CNO issued did not go through the proper process. The NCIP executives were alleged to have campaigned for the support of the indigenous peoples within the affected area for the issuance of CNO and renewal of the NCC’s permit. 

The complainants stated in the motion the NCIP officials started to intimidate and harass them when personnel from the NCIP Sison Community Service Center, with the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative of Barangay Sagunto, Sison came to obtain their signature on a genealogy form and to provide them with written responses on their questions.

The complainants said they found the action not within the protocol, thus they filed their observations with the CSC.

Also, the complainants said they were informed of the presence of individuals who were looking for them for unknown reasons, thus they reported it to the PNP in Sison.

“The fear of the complainants being merely regular and concerned citizens with their fellow IPs in Sison, Pangasinan, that the respondents can and will use their influence, power and intimidation as high ranking NCIP officials to alter and manufacture documentary evidence and/or unduly influence witnesses in their favor just to save their own skin is not a farfetched possibility but an imminent danger,” the complainants stated.

The complainants added Capuyan is not a stranger to controversy as there are nationwide calls for his resignation from the different IP communities for alleged corruption and lack of public trust and confidence.

“They catered to their selfish interests instead of performing their mandate. They are seen as persona non grata and simply traitors to the IP community,” the motion reads.

The complainants said there were also confirmed reports the NCC in coordination with the NCIP central office began efforts to remedy its patently illegal and erroneous railroading of the free prior and informed consent or FPIC process.

They said the respondents have even begun to clandestinely reach out to them to possibly dissuade them in continuing the case. – Ofelia C. Empian