Indigenous persons (IPs) should be represented in local legislative councils and policy-making bodies, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo asked all local government executives in the country on Tuesday.
In a memorandum circular, Robredo reminded provincial governors, city and municipal mayors, and other local government officials of Republic Act 8371, or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997, which calls for the mandatory representation of IPs.
Section 16 of RA 8371 gives IPs the right to participate voluntarily, through procedures which they should determine, at all levels of decision-making that may affect their rights, lives and destinies.
The law also allows IPs to maintain and develop their own indigenous political structures.
“IP representation shall be proportionate to population, and shall have the same privileges as the regular representations in legislative and policy-making bodies,” said Robredo.
Selection of IP representative to local legislative and policy-making bodies, as provided by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), shall be in accordance with local guidelines adopted and promulgated by concerned IPs.
An IP representative, who should take oath before an authorized officer, shall assume post as soon as the selection process is formally certified by the concerned NCIP regional director, upon recommendation of the provincial or community service center head.
He or she should communicate the collective interest of IPs he or she represents.
Another important function would be ensuring support for the sustained constitution and operations of the Indigenous People Consultative Body (IPCB) in the area of representation.
He or she should also maintain the development and practice of their traditional leadership titles and structures, justice systems, conflict resolution, and peace building mechanisms and processes.
An IP representative shall serve for a period of three years from the date of assumption to office and can be re-indorsed for another term as long as he or she would not serve for more than three consecutive terms.
Robredo directed all regional directors of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the ARMM Regional Governor to provide technical assistance, if necessary, to local government units within their jurisdiction.
They were also tasked monitor compliance by concerned local officials with the directive. ###