SADANGA, Mountain Province – The municipal government is studying its next steps on how to sustain its position not to allow the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) to have a seat in the local legislative body amidst the firm position of the Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) directing the local government to allow the duly selected IPMR to occupy his post and perform his assigned duties and responsibilities.
Mayor Gabino Gangangan said that the local government will consult legal luminaries on the matter so that the municipal officials will be appropriately guided on what are the necessary strategies that will be undertaken to firm up their position not to allow the IPMR to seat in the local legislative body performing similar duties and responsibilities as those duly elected by the town’s electorate.
“We already made our position on the issue and it is now up to the NCIP-CAR to contest the matter by bringing it to the appropriate forum so that the proper intent of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) will be provided by the branch of government that is in charge of interpreting the law,” Mayor Ganggangan stressed.
Earlier, the local legislative body passed a resolution not to allow the IPMR to have a set in the municipal council considering that the same is contrary to the intent of the law and the lack of funds that have been appropriated to shoulder the salary and other expenses required by the additional member.
However, the NCIP-CAR sent notice to the municipal government compelling the same to allow the IPMR to occupy his position in the municipal government and perform his duties and responsibilities pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act 8371 or the IPRA considering that the position of the IPMR has been decided to be mandatory.
According to Mayor Ganggangan, there is no reason to allow an IPMR to seat in the local government considering that all officials and employees of the local government are indigenous peoples who have been consistent in the implementation of programs, projects and activities that have resulted to the upliftment of the rights of IPs over their ancestral domain and the responsible use of resources for their greater advantage.
He underscored that the municipal government is willing to take the risk of embracing whatever available steps that will be done to elicit the proper interpretation from the appropriate branch of government on the real intent of the IPRA allowing an IPMR to be part of a local government unit to represent the plight of the IPs in the implementation of the different programs and projects of the government in their respective areas of jurisdiction.
While there are barangays, cities, municipalities and provinces in the different parts of the country that allowed selected IPMRs to seat in their local legislative bodies,, there are also a good number of local governments that did not allow the IPMRs to occupy their positions because it runs counter to the real intent of the law, especially when the local governments are IP dominated places found mostly in the Cordillera.
Ganggangan asserted that the local government remains firm in not allowing the IPMR to seat in the municipal council and that it will be up to the NCIP-CAR to take whatever actions it wants to do.