Lumads hail Robredo: ‘he was instrumental for mandatory representations’

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/27 August) The indigenous peoples in Bukidnon are grateful of the help that Interior and Local Govt. Sec. Jesse Robredo extended to them when he issued DILG Memorandum Circular 2010-119 in 2010, which called for the mandatory representation of indigenous cultural communities in policy-making bodies and other local legislative councils.

Datu Magdaleno Maida Pandian, mandatory representative to the Bukidnon provincial board told MindaNewsMonday they would like to express their respect and thanks to Robredo for his commitment and recognition of the indigenous people’s rights.

“He was instrumental to the implementation of the IP mandatory representation in the local bodies. He was the only DILG Secretary who did that,” Pandian said via telephone.

The DILG and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples eventually issued joint circular specifying guidelines in the implementation of mandatory representation.

Mandatory representatives are to be selected from the barangay, town or city, and provincial levels.

Pandian described Robredo, who died last week in a plane crash, as a sensible and approachable leader.

When some local government chief executives challenged the implementation of the mandatory representatives, Pandian said they came to Robredo’s rescue.

Pandian explained that some mayors disregarded the DILG and the DILG-NCIP joint circulars, some others denied providing appropriations alleging they have budget for sectoral representatives.
He said he immediately wrote to Robredo and handed the letter to him in a meeting intended for the disaster risk reduction and management in Cagayan de Oro in July.

“Now we got the response from the legal office,” he added.  He vowed to give the media a copy of the response.

Carl Binayao, NCIP Bukidnon community affairs officer, said it was Bae Yolanda Lilawan, mandatory representative to the Don Carlo municipal council, who initiated the move to express respect and honoring to Robredo.

Binayao said the suggestion was made in a meeting of Bukidnon’s mandatory representatives Friday.

Robredo explained to reporters earlier that the DILG was enforcing the s section of IPRA concerning mandatory representatives through the DILG’s Seal of Good Housekeeping awards.

Local government units (LGUs), he said, must comply with this IP representation standard in order to get a Silver Award of Good Housekeeping especially for those with IP constituents.

According to the DILG site, a Silver Award allows the winning LGU to access part of millions of pesos in the DILG’s Performance Challenge Fund.

The NCIP announced in March that Bukidnon is becoming the first province in the country to comply with mandatory representation of the indigenous peoples in all levels of local government, a requirement provided by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).

Ma. Shirlene Sario, provincial officer said then that IP representatives have been selected in all of the province’s 462 barangays, 20 of its 22 towns and cities, and one for the whole province making it the first province to do so in all levels as provided in Section 16 of Republic Act 8371 or the IPRA of 1997.

Sario said the selection process was mostly bottom-up, except in two towns where previously their municipal representatives have been selected because their municipal tribal council are active. The NCIP, which assumes a facilitative and documentation role in the selection, has initiated the selection in March 2010.

The national guideline for mandatory representation was issued by NCIP in 2009 but most local government units did not implement it until the Department of Interior and Local Government issued Memorandum Circular 2010-119.

Sario cited the active and open environment provided by the local government units in Bukidnon with a pledge to appropriate budget.

But Sario said the selection process was left independent to the Lumads based on processes dictated by their customary laws and tradition down to the barangay level.

Sario said the province’s feat in mandatory representation addresses the struggle of the IPs for representation in local governance.

“But self-governance, another aspiration of the IPs relies on their readiness,” she added.

She clarified that the representative assumes only a legislative function and the traditional structure of IP governance is retained at the tribal councils.

The IP representative to the provincial board can initiate, sponsor, and support enactment of resolutions and ordinances that recognize, protect, and promote the rights of the indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples.

The representative is also tasked to present to the provincial board the ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plans (ADSDPPs) and other programs, projects, and activities for integration to the Provincial Development Plan and the Annual Investment Plan and other functions. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)