Cultural communities will be given a seat in policy-making bodies

Cultural communities will be given a seat in policy-making bodies

 Representatives of indigenous cultural communities will now be given a seat in policy-making bodies or local legislative councils all across the country.

Congresswoman Nancy  Catamco (2nd District, North Cotabato), one of the main authors of House Resolution 916, lauded Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo for issuing a memorandum circular mandating the right to representation of indigenous cultural communities or indigenous peoples (ICC/IPs) in policy-making bodies and other local legislative councils.

The House of Representative has adopted HR 916 as House Resolution 1373 on June 7, 2011. The measure was submitted for approval by the House Committee on National Cultural Communities headed by Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr. (Lone District, Ifugao).

DILG Secretary Robredo issued on October 20, 2010 Memorandum Circular MC2010-119 entitled “Mandatory Representation of Indigenous Cultural Communities or Indigenous Peoples in Policy-Making Bodies and Other Local Legislative Councils.”

Catamco said the circular directs all local chief executives to strictly observe the ICC/IP mandatory representation in the local Sanggunian. Robredo also directed all DILG Regional Directors and the

ARMM Regional Governor to disseminate the circular and provide technical assistance to LGUs, if necessary.

“The DILG Secretary’s directive is highly praiseworthy and is in congruence with State advocacy and the policy of recognizing, protecting and promoting the rights and welfare of ICCs and IPs throughout the country,” Catamco said.

Catamco said the State recognizes and promotes the rights of indigenous cultural communities under the constitution.

“One of these rights is to participate in policy and decision-making,  for which reason Republic Act 8371, or the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997, was enacted,” Catamco said.

“If ICCs and IPs may participate fully at all levels of decision-making on matters which may affect their rights, lives and destinies through procedures, they themselves have determined, as well as maintain and develop their own indigenous political structures,” Catamco said.

Catamco said although the processes for the qualification and selection of ICC/IP representatives in local legislative bodies have already been provided for in the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 2009, there is still minimal compliance on the part of local government legislative bodies.

“There is still inadequate representation of indigenous cultural communities in policy-making bodies in LGUs, to which they belong,” Catamco said.

The co-authors of the measure are Reps. Mylene J. Garcia-Albano (2nd District, Davao City), Eric G. Singson Jr. (2nd District, Ilocos Sur), Dakila Carlo E. Cua (Lone District, Quirino), Ma. Carmen Zamora-Apsay

(1st District, Compostela Valley); Reps. Reynaldo V. Umali (2nd District, Oriental Mindoro), Bernardo M.

Vergara (Lone District, Baguio City), Teddy A. Casiño (Party-list Bayan Muna), Arlene J. Bag-Ao (Party-list Akbayan), Eleandro Jesus F. Madrona (Lone District, Romblon), Walden F.  Bello (Party-list Akbayan), Angelo B. Palmones (Party-list Agham); Reps. Victorino Dennis M. Socrates (2nd District, Palawan), Randolph S. Ting (3rd District, Cagayan), Eleanor C. Bulut-Begtang (Lone District, Apayao), Maximo B. Dalog (Lone District, Mt. Province), Raymond Democrito C. Mendoza (Party-list TUCP), Jesus N. Sacdalan (1st District, North Cotabato) and Pedro Acharon 1st District, South Cotabato).

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