An election protest was lodged Thursday before the regional office of the National Commission on
Indigenous Peoples in the Cordillera seeking to invalidate the choice of James Amid as Kabugao, Apayao Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative (IMPR) to the legislative council. Isnag (Apayao indigenous people) elder Roldan Apilit also sought that the entire NCIP Cordillera, especially Acting Regional Director lawyer Atanacio Addog inhibit themselves in any fact-finding
to be launched.

The Isnag elder raised about irregularities in the IPMR selection as well as the controversial approval of a local IPMR guideline, which was conducted, he claimed, “(was) a collusion of NCIP officials and its staff. “It is really disgusting that the seated NCIP personnel themselves are the ones
disrespecting and curtailing the rights of the Indigenous people,” lawyer Ryan James Solano, counsel for Apilit, blurted out.

Solano claimed they have gathered ample proof, even from the NCIP itself, to show that the questioned local IPMR guideline was never approved by the Indigenous Isnag community Based on documents from the NCIP, an assembly of the Isnag community on April 4, 2023 agreed to reconcile two proposed local IPMR guidelines which was submitted to the NCIP. One was from the group of Apilit and the other came from Amid’s.

Apilit however claimed in his complaint, “despite no schedule of assembly and pending the guidelines, NCIP Kabugao personnel Jezryl nopia-de Peralta wrote (me) about the selection of municipal IPMR on April 28, 2023. During the April 28 event, Apilit claimed that the NCIP announced about a local guideline listing “selectors” for the IPMR seat has been approved by the agency, referring to the questioned guidelines submitted by Amid’s group.

Attendees, including Mayor Bensmar Ligwang and Kabugao town councilors, all of whom are Isnags, objected to the guideline as they claimed they were not notified nor consulted. They even
reportedly requested for a copy of the guidelines approved but the NCIP apparently could not present one. NCIP Apayao Provincial Officer Agnes Gabuat admitted that her office never received a copy of the local IPMR guidelines submitted by Amid’s group as the same was directly given to Atty. Addog.

Despite strong denial from the attendees, members of NCIP Apayao insisted that the identification of “selectors” was conducted during the April 4 assembly. Though NCIP Kabugao’s Carter Ayabo claimed that the “selectors” were validated in 2019. The NCIP insisted in pursuing the IPMR selection prompting the attendees, including Mayor Ligwang to stage a walk out. Atty. Addog, Amid, Inopiade Peralta, Gabuat, Ayabo, as well as other NCIP staff and local officials were earlier sued for criminal and administrative violations, specifically for falsification and corruption
related to the Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process conducted in Kabugao over proposed giant dams projects.

Artemio A. Dumlao/ABN

Amianan Balita Ngayon