Commission on Audit

COA grants P1-million claim of former IP representative in Benguet town council
COA grants P1-million claim of former IP representative in Benguet town council

TOWN HALL. The facade of the La Trinidad Municipal Hall.

Patrickroque01/Wikimedia Commons

COA says Marcelo Abela 'is entitled to compensation' for serving as an Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative in the La Trinidad municipal council from October 2014 to December 2015

The Commission on Audit (COA) has granted the petition of a former indigenous people’s representative in the municipal council of La Trinidad, Benguet, for a money claim of over a million pesos in unpaid salaries and benefits when he served the town council.

In a decision released on Monday, January 31, the COA ruled that Marcelo Abela, a former Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR), is entitled to his money claim of P1,034,637.66 for representing the La Trinidad Indigenous Peoples Organization (LTIPO) in the municipal legislative body .

The amount represents his unpaid salaries, allowances, and other benefits as an IPMR from October 8, 2014 to December 31, 2015.

COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo and Commissioner Roland Pondoc upheld the validity of Abela’s claim.

COA cited National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Administrative Order No. 1 s. 1998 and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular No. 2010-119, to uphold Abela’s claim. Under the AO and MC, an IPMR is entitled to the same privileges as regular members of the Sangguniang Bayan.

“The contention of the municipality that Mr. Abela was working on a voluntary basis since he knew that there was no budget for his position deserves scant consideration. Section 13, Title II of NCIPAO No. 001, series of 2009, is clear that IPMR is entitled to compensation,” COA said.

In opposing Abela’s petition, the La Trinidad Legal Office claimed that Abela served as IPMR with the knowledge that the position was supposedly as a volunteer and that he would not receive compensation. 

The La Trinidad Legal Office had also argued that Abela is estopped from pursuing his claim since he had failed to assert his money claim during deliberations for a supplemental budget where he himself had participated. –

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