BAGUIO CITY – The newly-installed Commissioner for the Cordillera and Region I of the National Commission on Indigenous peoples (NCIP) underscored the realization of the comprehensive development of the 5,000-square meter Benguet-Ifugao-Bontoc-Apayao-Kalinga (BIBAK) lot along Harrison road will be prioritized to serve as the region’s cultural center.
NCIP Commissioner Gaspar Cayat said he will make the necessary representations with the NCIP central office so that he will hold office in the abandoned former Cordillera Regional Assembly (CRA) building to make it closer for the indigenous peoples (IPs) of the Cordillera and Region I which he represents in the Commission.
“We have to maintain our direct linkages with our fellow indigenous peoples from the different parts of the Cordillera and Region I by holding our office in Baguio City so that we will be updated on the issues and concerns affecting the welfare of the IPs in the two regions,” Cayat stressed.
The NCIP Commissioner said he will personally look into the preparation of the comprehensive master development plan of the BIBAK property so that all aspects of the rich culture and traditions of the IPs will be included in the plan followed by the sourcing out of the funds for the eventual realization of the noble project.
According to him, it is still best that the envisioned cultural center on the BIBAK property will be done in phases if funding will be one of the hindrances for the completion of the desired structure so that something will be started, especially the putting up of the building’s foundation and the multi-level parking facility, followed by other portions of the structure that could be leased out to government agencies.
Cayat proposed that the top floor of the multi-storey structure will serve as the region’s cultural center showcasing the rich culture and traditions of the indigenous peoples apart from the IP-inspired coffee shops showcasing the different types of houses of the IPs serving as added tourist attraction in this mountain resort city.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Cayat as the new NCIP Commissioner for the Cordillera and Region I in lieu of Commissioner Basilio Wandag whose term expired last February.
Cayat, who was one of the 72 applicants for the said position, will be serving as Commissioner up to February 2022 pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.
He is a member of the Kalanguya tribe that inhabit some parts of Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya.
Commissioner Cayat served as the former Executive Director of the Cordillera Executive Board (CEB), a Commissioner of the North Luzon Growth Quadrangle, chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) and an official of a non-government organization advocating for the rights of indigenous peoples.