December 4, 2022

Mayor Darwin Estrañero Tabuk City, Kalinga is facing complaints filed before the Office of the President for alleged violation of health protocols and intervening in the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) process in a proposed hydropower project in the city.
In the affidavit-complaint filed on Feb. 16, lead petitioner Jerome Tabanganay has accused Estrañero of misconduct and negligence for violating the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force prohibiting mass gathering as well as grave misconduct for interfering with the FPIC process of the proposed Upper Tabuk hydro power project.
Tabanganay sta-ted that on Feb. 14, while Tabuk City was under enhanced community quarantine, the mayor was photographed attending a birthday party of one of his staff member at his office.  In the photo posted on Facebook, it showed 10 people were seated around a table, not observing physical distancing and without face masks.
The complaint stated the mayor should be the first one to observe and abide by the IATF guidelines. 
On the mayor’s alleged interference on the FPIC process, Tabanganay stated he affected indigenous cultural communities of Dallac-Nanong-Minanga Indigenous Peoples Organization (Danami-IPO) were about to sign the memorandum of agreement for the proposed project in Dec. 20 but the mayor interfered. 
The complainant, who is the president of the Danami-IPO, said the mayor wrote to then National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Chair Allen Capuyan stating his “strong opposition” to the proposed hydropower project and thus urging the NCIP to disapprove the FPIC process.
Tabanganay also alleged the mayor made statements in his radio interviews expressing his opposition to the proposed project. He said the mayor suggested that aside from the three IP groups, the other indigenous cultural communities should be included in the FPIC process. 
But Tabanganay said it is only the Danami-IPOmembers who are impacted by the project citing the field-based investigation by the NCIP-Cordillera.
He added the NCIP Kalinga has invited the elders of Danami-IPO to attend the meeting with NCIP Commissioner Gaspar Cayat on Dec. 14 at the NCIP Kalinga Office.
In October 2020, the complaint also shared the unannounced and uncoordinated visit to the ancestral domain of the IP by then NCIP-Cordillera Director Manuel Jaramilla, who was also aboard the vehicle of the city.
The complaint also cited that an employee of the city who gathered signatures in Barangay Naneng made it appear that it was for relief goods, but it was actually a petition urging the NCIP to declare the FPIC process a failure.
Tabanganay has urged the Office of the President to investigate Estrañero. – Ofelia C. Empian