indigenous peoples

IP leader files protest against selection of mandatory representative in Apayao town

Angel Castillo

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IP leader files protest against selection of mandatory representative in Apayao town
Isnag elder Roldan Apilit filed the protest against Kabugao Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative James Amid

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – A local leader has filed a protest against the selection of Kabugao’s Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR), before the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Cordillera Administrative Region (NCIP CAR) office.

Isnag elder Roldan Apilit, through lawyer Ryan Solano, filed the protest on Thursday, May 18, seeking to nullify James Amid’s selection as Kabugao IPMR due to alleged irregularities in the conduct of the IPMR selection process as well as Amid’s heavily contested approval of local IPMR guidelines.

Apilit also sought the NCIP-CAR to inhibit from the fact-finding activities involved in the protest, citing alleged collusion between the NCIP officials and Amid.

According to Solano, evidence would show that attempts to reconcile two proposed IPMR guidelines never went through the indigenous Isnag community of Kabugao.

Documents from the NCIP itself indicate that the community agreed on April 4 to reconcile two proposals for the IPMR election process – one from Apilit and one from Amid. However, NCIP Kabugao personnel Jezryl Inopia-de Peralta wrote Apilit about the selection of the municipal IPMR on April 28, despite the absence of an assembly or the review of the guidelines for the selection process.

On April 28, the NCIP also announced the approval and adoption of Amid’s proposal, which lists “selectors” for the IPMR seat. Isnag attendees objected to the adopted guidelines as they were not notified or consulted regarding the guidelines, nor provided a copy of the guidelines that they requested for.

With the NCIP insisting on pursuing the IPMR selection amid protests, the attendees, including Kabugao Mayor Bensmar Ligwang, walked out of the event.

The selection protest against Amid is the Isnag community’s latest legal action against him.

Amid is also the subject of allegations of a total of 159 counts of estafa, falsification of documents, and use of falsified documents. These stemmed from a December 2019 resolution selecting “authorized elders” of the Kabugao community to negotiate on their behalf with San Miguel Corporation-owned Pan Pacific Renewable Power Philippines Corporation.

This is despite the Isnag community insisting that they never signed such documents and the NCIP regional review team itself finding anomalies in the signatures of the document, which include signatures of deceased individuals. –

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