From Under This Hat: Baguio Ibalois cannot Cha-Cha


In 2003 there was a proposed House Bill #2813 which was opposed by members of the Ibaloi organization Aspulan. Today, five years after, is a re-filed version of the same proposed bill, HB#4699, revising, amending or changing the Charter of the City of Baguio.

The original charter of the city was passed on September 1st 1909, therefore the Baguio day and the Centennial celebration of the city. This charter in Baguio’s history created the city and in its implementation with one clean sweep made legitimate the displacement of the city’s original settlers.

The charter to the Ibalois is the law and represented all those directives passed before and after 1909 that “took away their homes and traditional source of livelihood without due process and without due compensation and then even sold the lands to raise revenue for the city,” and still continues to do so.

In that era almost a hundred years ago, that Act must have terrorized communities. Imagine the loss of homes and sources of livelihood of basically agricultural economies.

Today, HB#4699, the proposed bill that if read looks like its objective is to perpetuate the historical injustice or institutionalize the practice of displacing vulnerable communities, but this time not only against the original settlers but also against the poor informal settlers of Baguio today who many among them are also members of the wider indigenous populations of the Philippines.

In that light, any person in his right mind, Ibaloi or not, will not support such a proposed policy designed to their detriment as indigenous peoples, Ibalois, ancestral land claimants or especially as urban poor communities of the city now.

It is a responsibility expected of our politicians and government leaders to be transparent and sincere to their constituents even especially when conceptualizing or drafting laws and directives in the name of the people or their constituents of who in the city are all members of the democratic classes, Indigenous or not.

There is the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; national and international instruments putting focus on the recognition and respect for indigenous peoples’ rights and their contribution to the sustaining life-ways still used until today. Where does this proposed charter stand in relation to these legal instruments? Shall it just remain there blind to the long-running appeal for justice by the Ibalois, the IPs, and now also our urban poor neighbors?

The upcoming centennial commemoration of Baguio will either be significant for celebrating the birthday of the city or be historically significant on the 2nd International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples if the city, at the very least, recognizes the historical injustice committed against the Ibalois of Baguio especially against Mateo Cariño and Bayosa Ortega-Cariño.

The Cariño home (that used to be on the east topside of the present Rizal Park today) was indicated or identified in a colonial government directive as the center of a one kilometer radius area for the beginning of the City of Baguio, taken without due process.

Justice has never been so illusive for one and named Igorot or Ygolotte.#(NorDis)

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