NCIP Commissioner charged for grave misconduct

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TABUK CITY, Kalinga – An indigenous peoples organization in the city recently charged Commissioner Gaspar C. Cayat of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) before the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) for alleged grave misconduct for unduly interfering with the conduct of the required free and prior informed consent (FPIC) process of their respect communities which is prohibited under pertinent provisions of NCIP Administrative Order No. 3, series of 2012 or the revised guidelines on FPIC and related processes.

However, Cayat immediately refuted the allegations of Jerome Tabanganay who represented the Dallac-Nanong-Minanga (DANAMI) IPO in the aforesaid complain, saying that he was just emphasizing the importance of the primacy of customary laws, transparency and for the IP to assert their rights over their ancestral domain for them to maximize their benefits when developers want to exploit, develop and utilize the State’s resources within their ancestral domain.

Tabanganay also claimed that he wants the NCIP to be criminally charged for violation of the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for allegedly indirectly requesting for a bribe for the issuance of certificate pre-condition for the proposed Upper Tabuk Hydroelectric Power Plant (UTHPP) which is intended to be built along the Tanudan River and which will be affecting the ancestral domains of the DANAMI IPO.

In his affidavit complaint, he stated that in December 2020, the DANAMI IPO was undergoing the FPIC process for the proposed hydro power plant and that the group was about to sign the proposed memorandum of agreement for the aforesaid project.

The complaint stipulated that it was during the said period that the NCIP Kalinga invited DANAMI IPO elders to attend a meeting with Commissioner Cayat that was held last December 14, 2020 at the NCIP Kalinga office.

Ironically, Tabanganay admitted that he was not present during the said meeting since he attended to a very urgent matter but those who attended the aforesaid meeting executed a joint affidavit narrating what transpired during the meeting with the Commissioner.

During the said meeting, Commissioner Cayat allegedly told them that he was a former activist and he was one of those who opposed the Chico river dam project; the UTHPP project will not push through unless he endorses it to the Commission; the project will not be granted a certificate pre-condition without his endorsement; the profit sharing should be 50-50 and that the IPs should insist the same with the proponent; he is 100 percent certain that the proponent, Engr. Daniel Peckley, Jr., will sell the project to another investor; the IPs must convince those who are opposed to the project so that the same will proceed among others.

For his part, Cayat pointed out that he never asked for a bribe for his endorsement to the project and that he wanted is to make sure that there will be no problems that will arise during the process that could cause the delay in the issuance of the certificate pre-condition because if there will be problems, then the matter will not be calendared for deliberation in the Commission as the same will be referred back to the drawing board.

He pointed out that what he emphasized during their meeting was to ensure that the primacy of customary laws will be exhausted to settle whatever problems that will be raised aside from the IPs being transparent on the results of the negotiation and for the IPs to always assert their rights over their ancestral domain and that they should maximize the benefit that are due the IPs from the proposed renewable energy project.

Commissioner Cayat explained that he was in the city last December to validate the numerous complaints from IPs on the alleged flaws in the conduct of the FPIC process and the issues raised by the local government questioning the overall conduct of the process as there were some IPs upstream that were excluded from the same.

The NCIP official asserted that what he was able to ventilate to the IP elders was for the settlement of the issues and concerns raised against the project on the ground without the undue interference of their elders and for the inclusion of all concerned IPs in the process  since what were being consulted were the IP downstream while the IPs upstream were allegedly excluded which is already in violation of the established FPIC guidelines.

Cayat revealed that he wants to replicate what he was able to do in settling the conflicts of the IPs in the IPO of Alang, Pukis, Sabian, Sta. Fe, Oliba and Luacan in the ongoing FPIC process for the aforesaid project since what was employed then was the primacy of customary laws, transparency in the dealings of the IPs and the assertions of the rights of the IPs over their ancestral domain.

He announced that he will not take the complaint against Tabanganay and the DANAMI IPO as he will still be willing to settle the raised issues and concerns through continuous talks to allow the project to push through for the benefits of the upcoming generations of IPs in the city. By HENT