Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Finally, Mangyans as Municipal Legislators

November 20, 2011 was a red-letter day for the Tau-Buhid and Alangan, two of the biggest ethic groups of Mangyans in Occidental Mindoro, specifically those who dwell in the upland communities of Sablayan. Municipal Mayor Eduardo B. Gadiano signed Executive Order No. 2011 – 014 creating the Technical Working Group (TWG) for the preparation and adoption of local guidelines on the mandatory representation of the indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples in policy-making bodies and local legislative councils. Said representation of IPs in local legislative councils is mandatory under the DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2011-119, dated October 20, 2011. Such representation is likewise in accordance with Section 10, Article II and Section 17, Article XIV of the Philippine Constitution. Aside from the Mangyans, Sablayan is also second home to some migrant Igorots and Aetas.

The TWG was chaired by Gadiano himself and MLGOO Jerry V. Santos serves as co-chair. Along with some 17 other members and representatives coming from various private and government sectors, the group have already prepared local guidelines for the selection process of IP who would sit in the town’s selected legislative councils. The finalization of the local guidelines was facilitated by Atty. Ulysses Bambo and Eden M. Cenon, legal officer and field officer, respectively of the National Commission for the Indigenous Peoples or NCIP.

In the Joint Memorandum of NCIP and DILG, and this was followed by the TWG, the Mangyan tribal leaders and elders were given a free hand in selecting who would represent them in said bodies. The traditional process hinged on their culture was used by the Tau-Buhid and Alangan leaders who among them will represent their sector in said bodies including how would be the sharing of their terms of office.

Even before he entered into politics, Gadiano have been working close with the Mangyans. A known environmentalist during his NGO days said that his administration recognizes the contributions of our Mangyan brethren to the total development of Sablayan.

Statistically nationwide, the IPs number from 12 million to 14 million. They have a presence in 110 communities. Yet they are represented—in appointive capacities at that—in only 21 local councils. Of some 1,700 local government units (LGUs) in the country, only 21 have complied with the requirement of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) of 1987 for the mandatory representation of IPs in policy-making bodies and local legislative councils. The Local Government Code also requires the appointment to the municipal or city council or the provincial board of representatives of marginalized sectors, which may include the IPs.

On January 24, 2012, no less than President Simeon Benigno S. Aquino III hopefully will be coming to Sablayan to award the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) to the Tau-Buhids and Alangans in the towns of Calintaan, Sta. Cruz and Sablayan. The future Mangyan legislators will also take oath before the chief executive that day called Dugoy Manganwa or Mangyan Day. The event will be held at Sablayan Plaza in Brgy. Buenavista and part of the weeklong 110th Araw ng Sablayan.

Ironically, many LGUs in the country do not recognize the rights of the IPs, especially their ancestral domain.

Sablayan is not one of those LGUs…

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