July 15, 2024

Just like the good conduct time allowance, it is high time that the provision on indigenous people’s mandatory representative in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act be reviewed to ascertain its legislative intent.
How can a community of IPs be represented by an IP in its own legislature and mandatory at that? Seems redundant, isn’t it?
The local government unit of Sadanga, Mountain Province in August passed a resolution challenging that application of the law, before the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Department of the Interior and Local Government, and other concerned agencies, stating that its resolution is supported by the IPRA itself in AO-3, s. 2018 “which provides that indigenous peoples have the right to participate fully if they so choose, in all levels of decision-making in matters which affect their rights, lives and destinies through procedures determined by them.”
Also, the resolution maintains “that the real issue rests on whether there are a hundred percent IPs living in a locality concerned for an IPMR,” and for the municipality of Sadanga, which is populated by 100 percent IPs, the presence of an IPMR, “allows a duplication of functions and unnecessary waste of taxpayers’ money to a municipality already suffering from financial constraint.”
It is quite agreeable since most municipalities in the Cordillera belong to fourth and fifth class towns, and adding another member in the legislative council with full benefits is really a burden. With no clear implementation rules and regulations, some so-called IPMRs provide for their own IRRs to serve their own interests to the detriment of the LGU, like this one IPMR serving the present term. What was the legal basis?
In a recent gathering of IPMRs in Mountain Province, one even suggested that one qualification for an IPMR applicant is that he must know how to read and write. What has that got to do when being an IP means endemic or native in a particular area and practicing his or her own indigenous culture? He should be one whom we call a mambunong, an elder from the dap-ay or ato who knows how to perform the indigenous rituals affecting their day-to-day lives passed from generation to generation.
The city of Baguio is not spared of the controversy, as until now nobody sits as an IPMR as the manner of selection was questioned in the courts because of vague IRR.
I believe the IPMR is more beneficial to the IPs if it is applied in urban areas where the IPs are the real minorities as in Taguig City, Cainta, etc.
First, there should be a census to determine their degree of participation in the legislative council, whether in the city council or barangay council. But then, what really is the legislative intent? — NAME WITHHELD