BANGUED, Abra – Local tribal elders and leaders of various sub-tribes recently initiated the organization of a unified council of elders and leaders that would advance the cause of the indigenous peoples in all aspects of governance.
The indigenous peoples of the province is dominated by the Tingguian tribe who mostly occupy the upland municipalities but there are also sub-tribes and other indigenous peoples groups who have opted to make Abra their domicile.
Ruby Bersamin, wife of Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin, who has been assisting the tribal elders in their unification bid, cited the importance of the indigenous peoples having a major role in airing their common stand on issues and concerns that would aid policy makers and decision makers in coming out with a holistic approach in addressing problems that are being brought to their attention for proper actions.
“We are elated over the decision of our tribal elders and leaders to federate and we will extend whatever assistance we could in order to ensure the successful unification of the different tribes and sub-tribes in the province,” Ms. Bersamin stressed.
During the initial conduct of the confederation efforts recently, it was learned that some 70 representatives of the Tingguian tribe and other sub-tribes provincewide were able to share their inputs on how to effectively and efficiently undertake such efforts to establish their identity as indigenous peoples, as Abrenians and as Cordillerans.
She added that various sectors comprising the indigenous peoples like the youth, women’s among others will also be given appropriate representations in the confederation for them to be able to voice out their concerns with the aid of elders and leaders so that concerned government agencies and local governments will be able to appropriately act on the same to the satisfaction of the affected groups.
According to her, the next organizational meeting of the group is set next month with a bigger number of representatives from various indigenous peoples groups provincewide so that they will be able to put in place their guidelines governing their existence for the greater benefit of the majority of the people of Abra and the Cordillera as a whole.
Ms. Bersamin, who is a Tingguian herself, pointed out there is a need to empower indigenous peoples to actively participate in all aspects of governance because they have bright ideas which must be heard by national and local leaders for them to be able to come out with sound judgement on various issuesand concerns affecting people in the community where they exist.
Aside from representatives from the different tribes and sub-tribes in the province, those who compose the group include indigenous peoples mandatory representatives from the 27 towns among others.
Ms. Bersamin asserted it is high time that the indigenous peoples in the province be empowered to be partners of government in growth and development through their valuable contributions in the formulation of policies and implementation of development projects and enhancement of the delivery of basic services to the grassroots level thereby achieving the national government’s overall goal of inclusive growth.
By Dexter A. See