Lumad Gingoog City Councilor urges govt to strictly implement sectoral reps law

by Ben Serrano


            GINGOOG CITY- Higaonon Tribal Chieftain now Gingoog City Councilor Allan Mandokita yesterday urged national government leadership and the Department of Interior and Local Government to strictly implement the long over due sectoral representation provided by the local government code and the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA law).


            The Gingoog City Councilor’s claim came into wake after mounting social unrest among indigenous people in Northern Mindanao and Northeastern Mindanao airing their grievances against alleged incursion, abuse by some influential few, exploitation, destruction of environment and other social issues and problems involving ancestral lands.


            Mandokita who is Higaonon Tribal Datu Salagaan said that despite presence of two laws R.A. 8371 otherwise known as IPRA law and R.A. 7160 otherwise known as Local Government Code of 1991 which required due sectoral representations from women, indigenous people urban poor, other marginal sectors In all legislative bodies such as barangay, municipal, city, provincial and congress, many Barangay, City and Municipal councils all over the country do not religiously implement said laws.


            “It is sad that in the entire country despite provisions of the two laws requiring LGUs to have sectoral reps,, only two cities Gingoog In Misamis Oriental and Valencia in Bukidnon had IP and sectoral representatives sitting as city councilors while only twenty six municipalities out of total 1,346 towns in the country had their respective indigenous people and other sectoral representatives sitting as councilors”, Mandokita said.


            Mandokita added that under Implementation rules and regulations (IRR) of the IPRA law those barangays, municipalities, cities and provinces which had significant numbers of presence of indigenous people or lumads must have mandatory sectoral representations from the IP/lumads sector population.


            “The same also holds true for women, urban poor, farmers and differently-able sectors of the society. Sad to note some elective LGU officials do not wanted maybe these sectoral representatives’ faces in the halls of the barangay, town, city and provincial board councils” Mandokita added.


            “That is why there are now mounting social issues and problems unsolved from these sectors because it is not properly represented thus there is no constant consultations at grassroots level to solve brewing conflicts at their level preventing social unrest like social volcano waiting to erupt” Mandokita told BATAS ME|DIA in an interview at his constituency office in the presence of many Higaonon lumads.


            Mandokita planned to make part of his residence constituency office here in Gingoog City as training center wherein lumad youths and interested lumad adults can walk in and avail trainings on livelihood skills training like celfone repair, culinary arts, basket weaving, electrical wiring and others.


            Mandokita the more the national government will delay religious implementation for sectoral reps at the different legislative bodies in the country, “the more we will be facing social problems and it is increasing daily”, the lumad city councilor said.


            Mandokita shared sad experiences in his early struggle to get the Gingoog City Councilor seat representing the HIgaonon tribes whose population comprised about 30% of the total population of Gingoog and about 20% in the province of Misamis Oriental .


            Gingoog City is a component city of Misamis Oriental whose capital is Cagayan de Oro City.


            Mandokita said he experienced one year sitting as Gingoog City Councilor without salary and allowances.


            “Not only that it is really a personal struggle for me and my Higaonon tribes in following up different government offices for almost three years as we spend enormous money, time and efforts before we get representation at the Gingoog City Council which is not supposed to be like that because it is already enshrined into two laws”, Mandokita who is shedding some tears as he was interviewed.


            “It was really a personal painstaking experience and that is why I am also struggling hard now that other IPs in the country will not suffer the same as we suffer before just only to get sectoral representations which is supposedly already a law”, Mandokita concludes.