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Board member Ryan Maminta on Tuesday protested the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) decision to suspend the selection process for Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representatives (IPMR) nationwide.

In a privilege speech during the Sangguniang Panlalawigan session on Tuesday, Maminta said representatives of the indigenous communities in Palawan have manifested their opposition to Memorandum No. 352 of the NCIP dated May 12, 2022, ordering the suspension of the IPMR selection process in the country.

“Tinututulan ito ng council sapagkat ang kautusang ito ay labag sa Admin Order No.3 series of 2018 at hindi tumutugma sa pangunahing operating principle ng mandatory representation at ng selection ng mandatory representative sa mga local na sanggunian, kung saan ang pangunahing pinagkukunan ng lakas at batayan ay ang customary laws,” Maminta said.

NCIP issued the suspension of IPMR selection as a response to reports that, allegedly, some IPMRs were being used by politicians for personal gains while some abused their authority and were no longer performing their duties to the community accordingly.

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“Para mag-akusa ng ganoon ay hindi karapat-dapat. Ang mga akusasyong ganoon ay maaari namang gawin at talagang alamin at ituro kung sino yung mga IPMR na gumagawa ng sinasabi nilang violation. At dahil ikaw [NCIP] ang nag-aakusa, ikaw din dapat ang magpapatunay at mag-iimbestiga,” the board member stated.

He expressed disappointment over the commission’s generalization of indigenous cultural communities (ICCs). Instead of suspending the process for all communities nationwide, he suggested that it would be better if the NCIP would pinpoint these IPMRs with alleged violations and thoroughly investigate these concerns.

“Ang tono ng kanilang order ay may halong pagbabanta. Naka-base dapat ang kautusan sa mga ebidensya na tinutukoy nila upang ‘di maapektuhan ang buong bansa. Pwedeng ipadala nila [ang concern] sa IP offices, pero huwag idamay lahat dahil kawawa naman yung mga komunidad na walang kinatawan sa sanggunian, barangay, o munisipyo man,” Maminta said.

Later in the question hour, NCIP Provincial Director Atty. Jansen Jontilla explained that despite the suspension, there is a provision in the memorandum that allows communities to still delegate an IPMR given that they have already undergone a selection prior to the issuance of the said order through a community resolution that will be evaluated by the commission.

“There is an opportunity to continue the selection process for an IPMR if before May 12 ay may selection nang nangyari. Pangalawa yung wala pang selection process na nagawa pero gusto nang magka-IPMR, pwede po silang mag-submit ng community resolution on the intention to conduct a selection process supported by the latest Gabay (NCIP’s guide to paralegal practices and services),” Juntilla said.

Asked as to how long the province should wait for the suspension to be lifted, Juntilla said that it is in the hands of the national office to provide an answer.

In regards to the Masicampo issue raised by Board Member Rafael Ortega Jr. in the previous sessions, Jontilla assured them they would find ways to help the municipality of Aborlan in choosing the rightful leader of the Tagbanua community.

“Para matulungan ang bayan ng Aborlan, once and for all, ipatawag ang IPS (Indigenous Political Structures) ng 17 barangays at iinvite ang dalawang [kampong] nag-aagawan sa pagiging masicampo para matingnan base sa Gabay kung sino ang iseselect na municipal IPMR. Mayroon pong IPMR guidelines, so ieevaluate kung base nga po ba ito sa latest 2021 guidelines ng NCIP,” Jontilla clarified. (with reports from Aira Genesa Magdayao)

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