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LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – While the big guns in politics in the province are busy finding ways on how to get their acts together for the fielding of a unified candidate for the upcoming May 9, 2022 synchronized national and local elections, concerned indigenous peoples have found themselves to be comfortable with a young, passionate and dedicated indigenous peoples rights advocate as a possible candidate for the lone congressional seat.
Indigenous elders from Bakun, Bokod and Itogon towns who had been closely working with the Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) vouched that regional director Marlon Bosantog will be a suitable candidate for the province’s lone congressional seat because of his unrelenting and uncompromising passion to fight for the rights of indigenous peoples over their ancestral domain for them to maximize the benefits from the development and utilization of their resources within their domain.
The elders, who opted not to be identified for the meantime, disclosed that the decision of Bosantog to issue show cause orders requiring power generation and mining companies to show proof of the conduct of free and prior informed consent (FPIC) process in their respective host and neighboring communities is already a clear indication of his heart for the upliftment of the rights of the indigenous peoples to their ancestral domain.
The elders claimed that Benguet had been hosting the operation of various power generation and mining companies over the past several decades but the province still lags behind in terms of development because the supposed benefits of the host and neighboring communities were actually not provided during the early years of the operation of the said firms until the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) which mandated that companies intending to develop and utilize the resources within the ancestral domain must first secure the consent of the domain holders through the prescribed FPIC process.
Bosantog was born and raised in Buguias, Benguet and was able to complete his basic education in public schools before finishing his baccalaureate and law courses at the St. Louis University and served the Office of the Solicitor-General before being appointed NCIP-CAR regional director.
For his part, Bosantog said that he is humbled by the endorsements from the elders for him to consider running for the province’s lone congressional post.
However, he revealed that he is seriously weighing his options at this time and whatever his decision will be made known in the coming weeks.
The NCIP-CAR official pointed out that he was just trying to make sure that indigenous peoples can exercise their rights over their ancestral domain and for them to be able to maximize the benefits that they are supposed to derive from the development and utilization of their resources and to send a clear message to companies that indigenous peoples deserve the utmost respect for having preserved and protected such resources over the past several decades.
He expressed his all-out support to the ongoing unification talks of the big guns in Benguet politics as the same is aimed at coming up with a unified candidate for the lone congressional seat. By HENT