GENERAL SANTOS CITY: A highly regarded B’laan tribal chieftain here formally took office as the new indigenous peoples’ mandatory representative (IPMR) at the city council or Sangguniang Panlungsod.
Fulong Juanito Kindat took his oath as the city’s second IPMR before city officials led by Mayor Ronnel Rivera in a simple ceremony held at the city council session hall.
Kindat was earlier chosen by fellow tribal leaders to succeed the first IPMR, Fulong Mario Empal, who died of cardiac arrest last September.
The late Fulong Empal assumed as the city’s first-ever IPMR on July 22, 2014.
Rivera lauded the selection of Kindat as the newest member of the city council and leader of the city’s IP sector, which is mainly composed of the B’laan tribe.
“This is a new milestone for the city and rest assured that our plans and programs for our IPs will continue in 2016,” he said.
Kindat, who is a council member of Barangay Labangal here, vowed to continue the unfinished programs of Empal and also introduce fresh initiatives that would uphold the rights and improve the lives of the city’s IPs.
He specifically cited Empal’s efforts for the establishment of a tribal or Kasfala hall and the conduct of a census for the area’s IPs.
The tribal leader said he will push for a grander B’laan Day, which was held for the first time in the city last July 22.
He added he will also prioritize the establishment of a scholarship program for the IPs covering elementary, high school and college education.
Kindat was chosen for the post in a selection process facilitated by the local government and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) as mandated by Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 2007.
The IP and Indigenous Cultural Communities’ sector in the city has Kindat’s selection.