THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Thursday directed 67 local government units (LGUs) that “have not accepted and/or outrightly rejected Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representatives (IPMRs) in their jurisdictions” to comply with the provisions of Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997 on providing mandatory seats to IPMRs in “Sanggunians” at all levels.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said non-compliant LGUs are given until May 5, 2022, to “submit an explanation on why they have disregarded the provisions of the law and the appropriate actions that they are undertaking to ensure that the IPMRs are given a seat in the local legislative councils.”
Of the 67 non-compliant LGUs, two are provinces, 14 are municipalities, and 51 are barangays.
“Ang mga karapatan ng mga IP ay nasa batas at dapat nating sundin ang batas. Sila ay bahagi ng ating kasaysayan at kultura. Dapat natin silang hayaang lumahok sa ating mga gawaing pangkomunidad at pakinggan ang kanilang panig sa mga usaping pang-LGU,” he added.
According to Año, among the issues on IP representation in sanggunians are no fund allocation for salaries of IPMR and non-recognition of IPMRs by higher levels of LGUs.
Section 16 of the IPRA Law states that “the State shall ensure that the ICCs/IPs shall be given mandatory representation in policy-making bodies and other local legislative councils.”
IP representation is also mandated by National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Administrative Order 2021-01, which amends NCIP AO 2018-03 or the Revised National Guidelines for the Mandatory Representation of Indigenous Peoples in Local Councils and Policy-making Bodies.
The DILG Secretary issued the directive upon receiving a letter from NCIP Chairperson Allen Capuyan providing the Department a list of the 67 LGUs with issues with the acceptance of IPMRs and a list of 530 other LGUs that are qualified for IPMR representation but still do not have IPMRs.
In his letter, Capuyan said that while the number of LGUs with issues with IP representation have decreased, he hopes that resistance to IP representation will become “a thing of the past” and the IPRA law will be fully implemented.
As members of local legislative councils and policymaking bodies, IPMRs are expected to carry out at all times the collective interests and aspirations of the indigenous cultural community (ICC).
In consultation with the IP leaders/elders or the entire community, they are also tasked to formulate the IP agenda and source financial support to implement the IP agenda.
Moreover, IPMRs sponsor ordinances and resolutions and conduct committee hearings that will promote and protect the well-being and interests of the community and inclusion in the LGU annual budget and projects.
They also coordinate with the NCIP on implementing programs and projects and the conduct of IP census in their area of responsibility during the first year of their term.
In return, IPMRs receive compensation, benefits, and other emoluments similar to those of the regular members of legislative bodies upon the enactment of an ordinance providing the appropriation of funds for their salaries and other payments.