IP affairs focal person sought

BAGUIO CITY – The city legislators have proposed for the appointment of an Indigenous Peoples (IP) affairs focal person to be assigned at the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO).

In a resolution passed on December 14, the council requested the CPDO and the City Government Performance and Governance Audit Team (CGPGAT) to consider the proposal.

Councilor Isabelo Cosalan Jr., main author of the resolution, stated there is a need to designate an IP affairs focal person who will check if projects or development endeavors over recognized ancestral lands are aligned with approved city development plans and that indigenous social and cultural plans, programs, and projects are within the sphere of defined development policies.

Cosalan said the IP focal person, if and when necessary, shall not only check and validate but also give recommendations with regard to such development activities. The appointment of an IP focal person is necessary for compliance, monitoring, and guidance, he added.

“Taking due cognizance of indigenous peoples’ issues and concerns are also an environmental and social strategy as tribal culture and traditions are anchored on the sustainable utilization of resources and peaceful co-existence as a community,” Cosalan wrote in the resolution.

The resolution is anchored on the 15th strategic point strategic goal of the City Government of Baguio which is the resolution of IP land issues or other land issues in the city including the protection and preservation of the Ibaloi and the Ibaloi/IP heritage.

The resolution also cited the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) of the city which states, “For the adoption of a policy that ancestral lands shall be respected and accorded the same rights and responsibilities appurtenant to private titles…”

The CLUP further underscores that all registered owners of legitimate ancestral domain/land titles shall formulate their respective sustainable development protection and management plans pursuant to Republic Act No. 8371 and other pertinent laws. Such plans shall be adopted to form part of the CLUP.

RA 8371 was enacted to recognize, protect, and promote the rights of the IPs, thereby creating the National Commission of Indigenous People (NCIP).

The act, otherwise known as The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997, mandates the state to “protect the Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) to their ancestral domains and ensure their economic, social, and cultural well being… and to institute and establish the necessary mechanisms to enforce and guarantee the realization of these rights to their ancestral domains.”

In 2019, the council passed Resolution No. 212-2019 supporting the move of Mayor Benjamin Magalong in constituting the CGPGAT which was tasked to conduct a performance evaluation of all departments in the organizational structure of the City Government of Baguio. The evaluation should focus on three sectors namely (a) plans, programs, and projects; (b)  budget and personnel; and (c) actual implementation, output, and impact to stakeholders as a tool for the city government in enhancing the delivery of public service. -Jordan G. Habbiling