BAGUIO CITY – The City Government of Baguio is eyeing the creation of a standing committee in the Baguio City Council to take care of legislative matters in relation to all indigenous peoples (IP) concerns in the city.
In his letter dated January 3, 2022, Mayor Benjamin Magalong requested the legislative body for the creation of the said committee to be chaired by any council member who belongs to an IP group.
The chief executive’s request stemmed from the report of Antonette Anaban, the city government’s focal person for the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG).
The SGLG, under Republic Act 11292, is an institutionalized award, incentive, honor, and recognition-based program that encourages local government units to continuously improve their performance in 10 governance areas. The LGU needs to pass all the assessments in these areas.
One of these governance areas is Social Protection and Sensitivity Governance. One indication that the LGU is progressing in this area is the installation of an Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) in the local legislative body.
The installation of an IPMR is in compliance with Section 17, Article XIV of the Philippine Constitution and Section 16 of RA 8731 or the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997.
However, to date, the city government has yet to install an IPMR in the city council. Anaban said the absence of an IPMR in the council is due to financial limitations.
Recently, an IP affairs focal person has been designated under the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) pursuant to a council resolution passed in 2020.
However, according to Anaban, this does not comply with the standards set by the SGLG for Social Protection and Sensitivity Governance.
Anaban said the creation of an IP committee in the council in lieu of the IMPR is a sufficient move by the city government in order to meet the SGLG standards.
Councilor Isabelo Cosalan, Jr. mentioned that he, along with Councilors Mylen Yaranon and Francisco Roberto Ortega VI, proposed a resolution in 2019 seeking to create the Committee on Indigenous Peoples and Cultural Communities as one of the standing committees of the city council.
The proposed resolution has been referred to the Committee on Laws, Human Rights, and Justice and has yet to be acted on. The proposed resolution was returned to the authors to introduce necessary amendments.
One amendment suggested by Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda is the identification of the specific functions of the proposed committee so that it will not perform certain functions of the other existing committees.