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City officials recently requested the Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) to fast track the composition of indigenous political structures of indigenous peoples organizations (IPOs) in the city for their registration.
Under Resolution No. 436, series of 2021, signed by Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong, city legislators stated that the indigenous political structure of IPOs in the city is not yet established or formulated by the NCIP-CAR, thus, the need for the said government agency to fasttrack the same for the eventual organization of the IPOs that will translate to their registration with the regulatory agency.
Republic Act (RA) 8371, or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), cited that indigenous political structures (IPS) refer to organizational and cultural leadership systems, institutions, relationships, patterns, and processes for decision-making and participation, identified and accepted by indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) and indigenous peoples (IPs).
Further, the IPS shall cause the establishment of IPOs which shall have legal capacity to assist ICCs/IPs in ensuring the respect, protection and fulfilment of their collective rights to their ancestral domains and to strengthen their political, economic and social systems or institutions.
According to the council, IPOs registered under the NCIP Administrative Order No. 2, series of 2012, or the general guidelines on the confirmation of indigenous political structures and the registration of IPOs and other government registering or accrediting agencies or institutions such as the local government units, Cooperative Development Authority and the Securities and Exchange Commission shall be subject to verification, validation, registration or confirmation as the case may be.
The organisation of the IPS shall pave the way for the registration of legitimate IPOs and the possible naming of the legitimate Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative IPMR, not only in the barangays, but also in the City Council to ensure that indigenous peoples are duly represented to the different collegial bodies for the advancement of their rights and privileges in legislative and policy-making bodies.
The IPS will be the governing structure that will nominate the IPMR at any level as provided for under the NCIP guidelines.
Section 78 of the IPRA recognizes the Charter of Baguio City and that all lands shall remain under its townsite reservation but respect shall be given to prior rights given due recognition by the courts, quasi-judicial and administrative bodies.
While there was a city IPMR that was named by the Ibaloi as the original inhabitants of the city, the said personality did occupy the position because of legal questions raised on the selection process.
The NCIP-CAR has stood firm that the appointment of the IPMR is mandatory pursuant to the pertinent provisions of the IPRA thus all local governments are mandated to have their respective IPMRs to ensure the proper representation of the indigenous peoples in governance. By Dexter A. See