BAGUIO CITY – Following the Resolution No. 45 Series 2019 by the Sangguniang Bayan of Sadanga challenging the applicability of representation of the duly selected Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR), thus barring the same to sit at the Sanggunian Bayan (SB), the Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) issued a warning of legal actions against the SB if it does not allow the IPMR to assume office.
The notice dated August 19, 2019 reads, “Please be warned that your failure to allow the assumption of the duly selected IPMR of the IP/ICC of Sadanga to the Sanggunian Bayan of your Municipality […] will constrain the office to file the necessary administrative, civil and criminal charges against you in order to uphold and protect the rights and interest of the indigenous peoples.”
NCIP–CAR also clarified issues and legal questions raised by the Sangguniang. On the question on whether or not there is a need for the chief executive to accept the duly selected IPMR before the assumption to office as member of the legislative council, it said it is within the prescribed power of the local chief executive to accept or otherwise, the duly selected ICCs/IPs representative to the SB. NCIP–CAR cited the Department of Interior Local Government (DILG) prevailing circulars and legal opinion DILG Legal Opinion No. 20 s. 2011 (May 31, 2011 DILG Legal Service) to back its position.
Moreover, the NCIP–CAR underscored there are no provisions in RA 8371 otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, its implementing rules and regulations, and NCIP Administrative Order No. 001, series 2009, requiring the prior adoption by the concerned local legislative council of a resolution recognizing/accepting the selected ICC/IP representative, or prior acceptance by the local chief executive on the selected ICC/IP representative before the latter is allowed to assume as ex-officio member of the local Sanggunian.
“We cannot also deduce the intent of our lawmakers on requiring the prior adoption of a resolution by the local Sanggunians or the acceptance of the mayor of the ICC/IP representative and if ever this was the intent of Congress, they should have indicated it in clear and unequivocal terms,” NCIP-CAR notice reads.
While the Municipality of Sadanga is composed of 100 percent population of indigenous peoples, and has 100percent local elected officials as contained in the Sangguniang Resolution, it does not mean that the indigenous peoples is not entitled to a Mandatory Representation in the Sangguniang Bayan.
According to NCIP–CAR, the population threshold or the number of population of the indigenous peoples in a local government unit as provided for under Joint DILG–NCIP Memorandum Circular No. 1 series 2011, or the Guidelines in the Determination of the Minimum Threshold of the IP/ICC Population in the Local Government Unit (LGU) to allow the Mandatory Representations in the Local Sanggunians, is only used to determine if the said ICC/IP is qualified to have an IPMR and not used to determine the number of IPMR to be seated in the Sanggunian.
“Since IPRA and its IRR mandated the ICCs/IPs Mandatory representation, it is therefore our considered view that LGU must strictly comply with law” the notice’s reads.
NCIP-CAR also cited in their notice to the Sangguniang, the DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2010-199 directing all Provincial Governors, City Mayors, Municipal Mayors, Punong Barangays, DILG Regional Directors, the Governor of the ARMM and other concerned to observe the mandate of RA No. 8371, specifically, ICC/IP Mandatory representation in the local Sanggunian, in accordance with the National Guidelines for the Mandatory Representation of the Indigenous Peoples in Local Legislative Council.
As of this writing, Jimmy K. Galingan, the duly selected IPMR of Sadanga is still not seated at the Sanggunian. Likewise, the Sangguniang Bayan of Sadanga has yet to give its response and/or plan of actions in compliance to the notice of warning issued by NCIP – CAR.
By Rocky Ngalob