Monday, July 28, 2014

Mayor Rivera welcomes IP Representative to city council


GENERAL SANTOS CITY (23 July 2014) - After decades of waiting, the indigenous community here in the city finally got a representative in the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP).

On the afternoon of Tuesday (July 22) at the City Hall lobby, City Mayor Ronnel Rivera made good on his promise to provide a voice for members of the Indigenous People (IP) in the city.

Blaan chieftain Mario Empal took his oath as the official IP Representative of General Santos City in front of the mayor, city councilors, LGU-GSC employees, and different IP groups.

“I am thankful that Mayor Rivera had pushed for an IP representation in SP. We asked this for a very long time and it was only now that this was realized—when Mayor Rivera is already the mayor of the city,” Empal said.

Representatives from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) also witnessed and certified the legality of putting Kagawad Empal in one of the seats of SP.

According to the DILG, Section 16 of RA 8371 or The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 says that the State shall ensure that all Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) and IPs must be given a mandatory representation in policy-making bodies and other local legislative councils.

The DILG ascertained that there was no irregularity in naming Empal as the IP representative and as the 13th city councilor of the 17th SP.

This thrust of Mayor Rivera is also supported by the SP through Ordinance No. 8 authored by City Councilor Rosalita Nunez.

The ordinance outlines the need for an IP representative in the city, as well its functions and responsibilities.

In the said ordinance, Empal will have a three-year term which officially started on the day of his induction.

“I am happy that for how many years and administrations, we finally have an IP representative in the SP that will push the welfare and rights of our IP constituents,” Mayor Rivera said.

“But aside from that, I also expect Councilor Empal to also help in resolving the problems that affect the city, such as of the poverty incidence. Since he is in the SP already, improving the lives of every General should also be his utmost priority,” the mayor said.

Mayor Rivera is also hoping that the next IP representative would come from other indigenous tribes here in Gensan.
Councilor Empal assured the city mayor that he will do his role to be the voice of his fellow IPs and ICCs. (GENSAN CPIO/Ian John M. Lagare)

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