Issue of November 12, 2017
     
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Benguet
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Mt. Province
 
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Setting the record straight on IPMR issue in La Trinidad
PENDON B. THOMSON, La Trinidad, Benguet

This has reference to a letter titled: “IPMR row not really settled through tongtongan” published in the Nov. 5, issue of this paper.

On Oct. 21 at Barangay Wangal, we anticipated that the agenda we had agreed at Municipal Lednicky Hall in La Trinidad on Oct. 10 will prevail.

To recall, former IPMR Marcelo Abela stated that “isu garod nga nagfilelak tano ada ekasta tayo nga agtotongtong.”

With that, we agreed to set the tongtongan on Oct. 21 at Barangay Wangal. Elder Teddy Quintos paid for one pig for the sabosab meant for forgiveness or cleansing of misunderstanding among parties in accordance to customs and tradition while elder IPMR Gregorio Antonio of Barangay Beckel gave one jar of rice wine and invited manbonong to lead the sabosab.

But we were surprised with the statement of Abela when he brought out all his anguish, heartache, and pain, accusing us as the reason why they didn’t give his salary and suffered heart failure because of our series of petition from 2014 to 2016.

I acknowledged and accepted all his accusation to keep with the tongtongan, which was the main agenda we agreed on Oct. 10.  Here’s why we lost our trust and confidence in him.

From 2007 to 2008, the IPs/ICCs in La Trinidad were recipient of NPC-FAB basic services project worth of P1.2 million. During workshop planning for the said project, the technical working group suggested that the fund will be equally divided among the 16 barangays of La Trinidad; to allocate P300,000 for IP-herbal; and  for a domestic water works at Barangay Shilan as suggested by LTIPO President Marcelo Abela.

Mr. Abela insisted his project proposal des-pite the precaution of Shilan Punong Barangay  Mariano Caluza that the site has no abundant water especially during summer.

The project implementation from 2008 to 2009 was all administered by our LTIPO Pres. Abela, including the feasibility plan and design, estimate program of works, canvassing and purchases of materials, approvals of vouchers, hiring of labor, manpower, and creation of monitoring committees. These are all documented.

The ICCs/IPs, especially the supposed direct beneficiaries, gave their trust and confidence to Mr. Abela being our LTIPO president and they opened a bank account with LTIPO Treasurer Filomina Podique for the downloading of fund for the project.

The project is unfinished and thus has not been used. The P1.2 million has not been fully used. With due respect to the administrator of this project, this is the main reason why we lost our trust and confidence in Mr. Abela.

Mr. Abela has accused us of having hijacked the LTIPO leadership from him.

The Constitution and By-Laws of LTIPO was also abused. Section I stated that the term of officers will be two years and they can be re-elected for two terms. The assumption of LTIPO was from 2007 to 2009 and from 2011 to 2013.  This was ignored and no annual assembly meetings were held.

Mr. Abela should also be thankful that we reorganized the set of officers and he remains to be a member of the organization. 

Likewise in 2014, Mr. Abela called for a general assembly through letters to the 16 punong barangays in relation to the selection of an IPMR for La Trinidad. The ICCs/IPs or elders and leaders only found this out when he was about to take his oath for his assumption as a member of the municipal council representing the IPs.  Why were the IPs/ICCs deceived?

That time, a representative from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples cautioned him that the draft of local IPMR guidelines he presented should be ratified through general assembly meetings of IPs/ICCs, which was ignored when the selection process proceeded even without a representative from the NCIP and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to document and facilitate the selection process.

We also just want Mr. Abela to correct his statement on the issue of ratification of his guidelines during his term as elected/selected IPMR.

In behalf of La Trinidad Indigenous Peoples elders/Leaders (LTIPEL), I apologize for the concerns and issues that were published in Midland Week’s Mail on Nov. 5.

May hope, peace, and unity reign among us all.

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