By Leonel Abasola

Philippine Senate

MANILA – Senator Robinhood Padilla has filed a bill seeking to probe alleged irregularities of Malampaya in the selection process of the Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative (IPMR) in Palawan.

In his Senate Resolution No. 885 filed on Dec. 11 but released to media on Tuesday, Padilla said his office got complaints regarding the irregularities in choosing the IP representative.

“The Cuyonons of Palawan alleged that the IPMR selection process did not adhere to customary laws and practices, resulting in the disenfranchisement of traditional leaders and their exclusion from meaningful participation,” Padilla said in his explanatory note.

He urged the Senate Committee on Cultural communities and Muslim Affairs to conduct an inquiry into the complaints of the Cuyon tribe, which resides in the Cuyo islands in the Northern and Central Palawan area.

The National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) issued a Certificate of Non-Overlap on the renewal of Service Contract No. 38 which allows for the continued production of the Malampaya gas field last June 30.

Padilla said the right to participate in decision-making is a guaranteed under Section 16 of the indigenous Peoples Right Act of 1997 (IPRA) which states that Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) have the right to participate fully, if they so choose, at all levels of decision-making in matters which may affect their rights, lives and destinies through procedures determined by them as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous political structures.

Padilla added that the State shall ensure that the ICCs/IPs shall be given mandatory representation in policy-making bodies and other local legislative councils.

“In view of the foregoing issues, there is a need to examine and review the IPRA as well as the mandate of the NCIP in the protection of the rights and welfare of the IPs with the end in view of improving the provisions of the IPRA” the resolution read. (PNA)