Monday, February 13, 2012

Mangyans and Mandatory Representation

If we are to examine Table 42 of the Community-Based Management System (CBMS) Survey in 2009 conducted by no less than our Municipal Planning and Development Office (MPDO) of LGU-Sablayan, we can see that the total number of household members who belong to IP groups in Sablayan is at 5,890. This is in proportion to the total number of household members pegged at 8.31 percent. Same Table shows that the Mangyans have the highest number of population at 4,541. Other IP groups in the municipality include Bago tribe (359); Ibanag (42); Kankanay (28); Aeta (20); Ibaloi (19); T’boli (7); Manobo (5); Mandaya (2); B’laan (1); Tagbanuas (1); Tao’t Bato (1); and Palawano (1). Moreover, there were 869 individuals other than the Taobuid and Alangan Mangyans.

Across barangays, five have proportions higher than that of the municipal statistics while the rest is lower. Those with higher proportions are Pag-Asa (62.66%); San Agustin (49.40%); Burgos (22.48%) Batong Buhay (16.97%); and Ligaya (10.06%) Pag-Asa had the most number of IPs with total number of 2,895, followed by Ligaya with 684, and San Agustin 578. On the other hand, only Tagumpay and Victoria recorded no IP residents. As we could notice, practically almost ALL of our barangays have IP residents.

This statistics can of course be contested. We all know for a fact that we cannot have exact data of the total number or population of Mangyans living in Sablayan. This is due to the fact that the greater number of Taobuid and Alangan Mangyans live in the inaccessible mountain areas thus getting the exact figure of their number is extremely difficult. We believe that the number in actuality is much higher. So, it is but proper that one from their ranks must represent them to local legislative councils.

Furthermore, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular No. 2011-119, dated October 20, 2011 that requires mandatory representation of the IPs in local legislative councils, is specifically for IPs and in Sablayan’s case it’s the Taobuid and Alangan Mangyans, including other migrant IPs enumerated in the CBMS survey. I just do not know if there exist similar memoranda for other sectors- i.e. women, farmers, fisher folks, youth etc.- issued by said department. In various local legislative bodies nation-wide, we can find regularly-elected officials coming from said sectors. We can find women legislators, farmer legislators, youth legislators, etc. but we can hardly find IP representatives especially in a non-IP dominated (population wise) areas or region such as ours.

No doubt that the IP is the most marginalized sector in our society. They are the poorest of the poor in Mindoro. Consequently, because they lack resources and they are oftentimes considered by us lowlanders as uncivilized and uneducated, this hinders the IPs involvement in the non-customary or legal electoral processes. Suffice to say that our election laws and electoral processes are not “IP-friendly”, so to speak, thus the DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2011-119, dated October 20, 2011 came into existence. I am not a lawyer but this is how I see it from a social communicators' lay spectacle.

Do we need the concurrence of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) for the IP representation? The answer is in the negative.

The Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA or RA 8371) and the Local Government Code (RA 7160) were “harmonized” via a MOA between NCIP and DILG that paved the way for the Memorandum Circular No. 2011-119. The NCIP, not the COMELEC, being the primary government body tasked on IP matters would take care of all the needed requirements, including the confirmation of the chosen IP representative, consonant with Section 6, Paragraph 1, Rule IV of Implementing Rules and Regulations of NCIP Administrative Order No. 001, series of 2009.

By the way, the term “representation” here refers to representation in legislative and oversight functions of being a member of an august body and not functions represented by actions pertaining to delivery of basic services, i.e. health, education, infrastructure, livelihood, relief and rehabilitation services, etc., including acts of charity extended to the IPs.

Any elected IP representative cannot be held in abeyance by any Sangguniang Bayan because it is beyond the authority of the latter acting that way because the ICC/IP representation in local legislative bodies, as we all know, is mandatory under IPRA. To emphasize, mandatory representation is not subject to availability of funds, because when all legal things have been done,- selection, confirmation and oath-taking - it is already a statutory obligation of the LGU to prepare and approve a budget for such undertaking.

So, we have no other choice but to have a heart for our IP representative. Whether we like it or not....

(Photo from LGU Sablayan File)

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