TUBA, Benguet – The decade -old ban on the existence of the Indigenous Peoples Organization of Alang, Pukis, Sabian, Sta. Fe, Oliba and Luacan (IPO-APSSOL) came to a happy ending after the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) en banc decided to lift the aforesaid ban to allow the unified organization to pursue their programs, projects and activities that will be incorporated in their comprehensive royalty development program (CRDP) crafted for the said purpose.
In a 4-page order handed down by the Commission en banc last January 13, 2021, the body stated that the writ of preliminary injunction issued on January 15, 2013 against the existence of the IPO-APSSOL and the financial transactions is lifted and dissolved effective immediately.
However, the order added that in order to avoid the unwanted consequences that the same sought to avoid and prevent, the eventual withdrawals of the funds shall be subject to and shall strictly comply with the conditions where the release of the funds shall be in accordance with the provisions of the CRDP; in the event that the CRDP is not yet finalized or approved, any withdrawal of the funds from the share of the IPs on their royalties shall be based on the works and financial plan previously approved by the NCIP regional director; all funds and royalties in excess of the financial requirements in connection with the preparation of the CDRP shall be placed in an escrow account for the benefit of IPO-APSSOL until such time that the deposition thereof in whatever amounts deemed necessary can be determined and made in accordance with the duly approved CRDP and in case, all withdrawals and releases of such funds and royalties shall comply with the free and prior informed consent guidelines.
On January 2, 2013, the NCIP regional hearing officer issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) directing the Banco De Oro to immediately refrain from releasing any amount to any of the IPO-APSSOL and any other account of the organization within 20 days from receipt of the said order.
After a summary hearing on January 13, 2013, the regional hearing office issued a writ of preliminary injunction stating that IPO-APSSOL officers or any other persons acting in their behalf shall refrain from withdrawing monies from any account or deposit of the organization with the aforesaid bank and that the bank was ordered to refrain from releasing monies to any of the parties or persons acting in their behalf.
However, the case was archived and forwarded to the Commission en banc through the Clerk of the Commission.
The NCIP en banc did not take any action because the forwarded case was already archived and that actions can be taken if the same will be revived.
Earlier, the quarrelling factions of the Kalanguya indigenous cultural communities in Camp 3, Tuba, Benguet were unified and subsequently promulgated an amended constitution and by laws of the IPO-APSSOL and with a reorganized IP organization, members of the council of elders and leaders and officers who would be serving for an interim period of 6 months were elected.
Further, the registration of the IPO-APSSOL was reinstated and was granted a new certificate of registration.
In a recent meeting, the newly selected interim officers adopted several resolutions, including one specifying the list of officers who are officially authorized to withdraw from the IPO-APSSOL accounts with the aforesaid bank.
Among the IPO-APSSOL accounts that were included in the coverage of the writ of preliminary inaction were a number of bank accounts in the BDO
The NCIP pointed out that except for the reformation or cancellation of the trust agreement between Banco de Oro Unibank Inc. Makati City branch, IPO-APSSOL and NCIP in the release of royalty payments, both causes of actions that could be worked out by the newly elected officers, the IPO-APSSOL no longer sees the need for the continuity of the writ of preliminary injunction.
Moreover, the Commission stated that a judicious evaluation of the aforesaid grounds will show that the same are well founded and reasonable under the prevailing circumstance, thus, the longer the funds are kept in the bank, unused by the intended beneficiaries, the more prejudice said beneficiaries will suffer.
According to the order, the aforesaid unjust situation cannot be allowed to continue and to do so would violate the legal mandate of the NCIP which the en banc is duty-bound to uphold.
Consequently, the said mandate requires the Commission to provide for necessary safeguards to ensure that future withdrawals of the funds will not open the doors to fraud and other unwanted consequences which the injunction sought to prevent and avoid in the first place. By HENT