IPMR to Legislative Councils is absolutely apolitical PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 17 February 2016 11:40

Table Talk

BY Mike S Apostol

The controversial issue brought about by erstwhile Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) Ismael Musa to the region 9 Comelec office, seeking disqualification for incumbent City Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar and Vice Mayor Iturralde to seek reelection for reasons that his removal from the city council is “politically motivated”, is sad to say, on the wrong premise and assumption. His representation to the City Council is based solely on the choice of Zamboanga City’s Council of Elders from 5 tribes that are indigenous to the city of Zamboanga, whom Ismael Musa must represent at the city council. The Council of Elders’ choice on who represent the 5 tribes indigenous to Zamboanga City, like the Subanens, Kalibugans, Samal Banguinguis, Badjaos and Yakans, who are tasked by law to act and perform basing on the Customary Laws and Tradition is not only lawful but sacred. The sacredness of Customary Laws and Tradition is the heart of Republic Act 8371 otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).  An NCIP Administrative Order No. 1, series of 2009, ( Table Talk was then an active NCIP Commisioner IV and the oversight Commissioner for Ancestral Domains in the country, during his incumbency), provides that “Customary Laws and Practices shall prevail upon mainstream mechanism” in the manner of selecting the mandatory representation to the local Legislative council and moreover it says “Customary Laws and Practices shall be used primarily to resolve disputes in the selection process”. Although, I sympathized with Ismael Musa’s unfortunate incident, but, City Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar or her Vice mayor Iturralde, has nothing to do with the NCIP City council of elders decision to void their choice affirmation of Ismael Musa as IPMR to the Zamboanga City Council. It is never politically motivated but a mandate.

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I was furnished a copy of the Regional NCIP Resolution dissolving the IPMR of Ismael Musa as an immediate former Commissioner, including the communication of Ismael Musa for reconsideration of  the council of elders decision to recall his IPMR, for Hadji Amilpasa “Caloy” Bandaying, acting chairman of the City’s Council of Elders, coursed to Engr. George T. Jocutan, NCIP OIC Head for Zamboanga City. The issue now is, whether, the City Council of Elders will consider the appeal, because Ismael Musa as IPMR did not only lose the trust and confidence of the Tribal Elders and Leaders but gravely a more serious offense of “betrayal” to Customary Laws and Practices by affiliating with a recognized political party. The move by some quarters to request the presence of the City Council of Elders and Leaders of the 5 tribes indigenous to the city to the city council to explain “what violation to the Customary Laws and Practices” did Ismael Musa commit that prompted the council of  Elders and Leaders to recall Musa’s IPMR, is not a due process of the Law for Ismael Musa, but, an interference of the city council, nay the government on the guarantee of “primacy of Customary Laws and Practices” and “Customary Laws and Practices shall prevail upon mainstream practices”.

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Table Talk was invited during the whole day affair of the General Assembly of the Interreligious Solidarity for Peace (ISP), a gathering of almost all tribes in Zamboanga City. My presence was as a representative of the Subanen Tribe which Hadji Amilpasa “Caloy” Bandaying as Chairman of the city’s IP endorsed. It was gathering of the City’s IP’s, Muslims, Christians, Evangelical and Catholic leaders and elders, and there I met another active IP Hadji Ali Yacub. We discussed so many IP matters, in fact, Hadji Caloy Bandaying gave way and made me an interim leader for the IP for that affair and to report the observations of the IP on the ISP. It was a fruitful gathering, and one of the most important wishes of the IPs in the city is a more information drive on the IPRA Law, which only a handful of IPs are aware of. The City Council of Elders and Leaders Chairman Hadji Caloy Bandaying promised to coordinate with the NCIP for this IPRA Law information drive. Hadji Caloy Bandaying and Hadji Professor Ali Yacub hinted that the council’s decision on Ismael Musa’s IPMR is fixed. They said Ismael Musa if he is really a tribesman, know by heart Customary laws and Practices, which has been practiced since time immemorial. “Betrayal” of Customary laws and Practices has always been respected and adhered for centuries.

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After the ISP General Assembly Meeting, Hadji Caloy Bandaying, my colleague at the defunct Regional Assembly of the Autonomous Regional Government, in the late eighties, Table Talk as Asemblyman representing the Cultural Communities (IP), Hadji Caloy Bandaying as member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), approached me and said that he has forwarded my name to be a member of the City Council of Elders and Leaders representing the Subanen Tribe. Hadji Caloy Bandaying said, “he wants to strengthen the Council of Elders and Leaders in the city”.  I accepted in all humility for my tribe, which is almost forgotten in the city of Zamboanga.

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Scope: RA 8371 otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples Right Act (IPRA) Law is adopted into law by the Philippine Government unanimously, to appease the IP’s in the country who composed at least 13% of the Filipino population, for the government’s centuries of neglect, injustice and social discrimination. Government realized that it cannot simply disregard her history of existence. The IP’s were already inhabiting the Philippines, centuries before government and religion set foot on our soils. You may agree or disagree,but, remember, “those that do not know and recognize their past can never reach their future”. Everybody knows this but they simply disregard it. Like the island of Guam, they say everybody knows it but nobody cares.