Table Talk: The smithy of my soul PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 25 April 2014 11:12

BY Mike S Apostol

Two nights ago at Hanazono Japanese Restaurant, a favorite drinking joint of Masons, businessmen, executives and those who love to eat fish, Table Talk has a casual conversation with Councilor Charlie Mariano, who called me “councilor”. I answered ex and future ex-councilor. Councilor Mariano also said, many are saying you cannot be a city councilor I said “I don’t care”. The truth is, Charlie might be joking, but really I am not made to be an elected government official because I don’t have the guts to play with my constituents and I cannot come across their demands during the campaign and election. Also I play by the rules even if I am on the opposition or administration party. Maybe some powerful colleagues in politics do not like my ideas but the “the feeling is mutual”. If they don’t like me, I don’t like them too.

Councilor Mariano also hinted that in his council committee is the pending City Ordinance for the Indigenous Peoples (IP) mandatory representation to the city council, sponsored by Councilor Mel Sadain, and waiting for his recommendation for adoption by the august body. R.A 8371 of 1997 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA Law), a special law, mandates that the representation is mandatory among all local government units (LGU) including IP representation in all local bodies created by a Local Government Unit. This Special Law on IP Representation in all decision making bodies has been relegated on the sidelines for many years now. Only few provinces, cities and municipalities in the country enforced this special law for the emancipation of the neglected IPs and to correct a centuries old injustice done to IPs which to-date consist 13 percent of our population.

The IPRA Law outlines the guidelines or process on the manner of IP selection for their representation. Although the IP representation is a political appointment from the LGU, but it cannot appoint any IP that has not be selected by the IPs themselves in a general assembly called for the purpose by the National Commission On Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the government office tasked by the IPRA Law to witness and facilitate the IP General Assembly. But NCIP cannot interfere in the proceedings and dictate upon IPs on whom to select during the assembly. The IP representative to the LGU legislative body must have the unanimous or majority approval of all IPs present during the assembly. Only when this process of selection is followed, the Local Government Unit can appoint an IP representative.

Councilor Mariano also hinted that Table Talk can be a qualified candidate for IP representative to the city council for being an NCIP National Commissioner, for being an IP Representative in the defunct Regional Government of Region 9 when Madame Elnorita Tugung was the LTP Chair for Region 9 and for being the Secretary to the Mayor (EA V) of the late Mayor Maria Clara Lobregat. In all humility, I said to Councilor Mariano, NO, I will not apply neither will I submit myself for IP selection by the IP General Assembly, if this city Ordinance will be approved. I have a long stint in public service, serving my tribe in different positions. All I want now is RETIRE happily even without money. My mission is over, my children are all professionals, gainfully employed and happily married. I might as well give to myself this last chapter of my life.

Councilor Mariano even asked me: Do I consider myself a resident of Zamboanga City, I told him, the late Mayor Maria Clara Lobregat will not hire her Executive Assistant V , a purely trust position, from Pagadian City or a non-Zamboanga City resident be allowed to run for office. I almost told Councilor Mariano, my Subanen forefathers from my mother side, have been residents of the Zamboanga Peninsula, since time immemorial. Pure Zamboanga City residents came from Subanen stock, whether they accept it or not because when the Spaniards came and Muslim Moors touched the shores of the city, they saw only the Subanen natives on land and Samal Lutaos on the seas of Zamboanga. History will bear witness on this account.

SCOOP: Testimony of an IP martyr, Chieftain Macli-ing Dulag, Kalinga, protesting against the NAPOCOR Chico River Dam in 1970 “ You ask me if we own the land. And mock us, “Where is your title?” When we query the meaning of your words, you answer with taunting arrogance. Where are the documents to prove that your own the land? Title. Documents. Proof of ownership. Such arrogance to speak of owning the land. When you shall be owned by it. How can you own that which will outlive you? Only the race owns the land because only the race lives forever.

“Life is most precious thing to every human being. If life is threatened, every person, man, woman and child must resist. Any other response is a dishonor to the human race. To be dishonored is worse than death. If we do not fight when our lands are threatened, we die anyway. If we fight, we die honorably.”