OLONGAPO CITY: Several members of an Aeta tribal community here questioned the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) over the rejection of their application as candidates for Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) for the barangay (village) council.
The candidates and their members in the Ambala Aeta tribe at Sitio Mampuweng in Barangay Old Cabalan approached an official of the Aeta Federation of Olongapo to air their grievance over what they claim as attempt to manipulate the process of selecting the tribal community’s mandatory representative to the village council.
An election was supposed to take place last February 12 in Sitio Mampuweng but the NCIP issued letters of rejection on February 8 to four aspirants advising them that they failed to meet the requirements to candidates.
Jay Dabu told The Manila Times he is a legitimate resident of the tribal community since birth but was rejected because he cannot read and write. He said it was sad that he was disallowed by the NCIP only because he cannot read and write which was not a requirement in the past.
Another aspirant, Rosalino Manuel Jr., who lives in the area since 1997 said he was rejected because of his track record which he refused to mention.
Also, Teresita Rivera, was denied from running as IPMR because the period she has served as village councilwoman was not enough and was accused of selling lands.
She said she has been residing in the said tribal community for some 40 years.
Another aspirant, Jocelyn Apacible said her work at the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) was not considered as a service to the tribe and that she has not enough knowledge of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) law.
Only IPMR re-electionist Zenaida Liwanag was qualified to run.
The Aetas in Mampuweng, composed of 150 families, are into farming as their livelihood.
Lawyer Roman Antonio, a member of the three-man screening committee of the NCIP in San Marcelino Service Center said there are guidelines followed by NCIP in choosing these candidates for IPMR and those rejected did not meet these requirements.
NCIP officers in San Marcelino, Zambales said NCIP acts as documentors and facilitators of the indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples (IPs).
The IPRA is an embodiment of the rights and aspirations of indigenous peoples as regards their right to ancestral domains, right to self-governance and empowerment social justice and human rights and cultural integrity.
Antonio told The Manila Times NCIP has given the rejected candidates until Feb. 17 to submit more documents to appeal their case before making a final decision and schedule the next date for election.