BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan underscored that the local government did not violate or deprive indigenous peoples (IPs) of their human rights in relation to its position that the city no longer needs an Indigenous peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) to sit in the local legislative body because majority of the local legislators belong to the IPs.
The local chief executive explained that there are two schools of thought regarding the selection of an IPMR wherein the first one is that the IPMR is mandatory irregardless of the prevailing situation in a certain local government and the second one is that Republic Act ® 8371 or the Indigenous peoples Rights Act (IPRA) was not intended to create reverse discrimination.
He added that it is unfair for some sectors to claim that the local government is depriving the IPs their human rights by not allowing the IPMR to sit in the local legislative body when it was the local court that restrained the IPR from doing so and the local government from appropriating funds for the IPMR while studying the petition for declaratory relief filed by some IP elders against the selection of the city’s supposed IPMR.
“Concerned IP elders have also the right to question the manner of selection of the city’s IPMR that is why they filed a petition for declaratory relief to allow the court to rule on whether or not the IPMR is mandatory for all local governments even those with officials who are mostly members of different indigenous peoples groups because it is only the court that could come out with an independent ruling or decision on the matter,” Domogan stressed.
He claimed that in the case of Baguio city, an IPMR is no longer needed s a member of the local legislative body because majority of its members belong to different IP groups, thus, in a situation where the IPMR is mandatory, it should be given to the group that is considered to be the minority to avoid reverse discrimination since allowing another IP to sit in the local legislative body will surely result to discrimination.
According to him, concerned IPs must be patient in writing the ruling of the local court on the filed petition for declaratory relief against the city’s IPMR so that all issues will be cleared on the mater considering that it is also the right of the aggrieved IP groups to seek redress of their grievances in the proper forum which is the judiciary.
Earlier, a local court issued a writ of preliminary injunction against the city’s supposed IPMR and the local government until such time that it will be able to come out with a ruling on the petition for declaratory relief filed by some IP leaders who questioned the process in the election of the IPMR and the inclusion of the local government as one of those that must have an IPMR when most of the sitting local legislators have IP affiliations.
The court barred the local government from appropriating funds for the payment of the salaries of the IPR as well as appropriations that will be used for the payment of the services of his staff and the maintenance and operation of his office until such time that there will be future orders to be issued relative to the pending case.
Some IP elders in the city petitioned the court to render a decision that the selection of an IPMR in the city is no longer mandatory because most of is legislators are IPs aside from the fact that the selection process of the IPMR was allegedly trained with irregularities in violation of existing guidelines crafted for the purpose. By Dexter A. See