By Maya M. Padillo and Carmencita A. Carillo, Correspondents

Young woman is new IP rep, but no support from Duterte

Posted on January 24, 2015

DAVAO CITY -- A 22-year-old woman from the Kagan tribe has been elected by a council of elders called Baragwa as the next Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative (IPMR) in the city council here.

Bai Halila Sudagar, the youngest and the lone female candidate as the next Indigenous Peoples representative in the Davao City Council, beat seven other aspirants following an election by the Kagan Tribe's Council of Elders. -- Carmencita A. Carillo
Bai Halila Sudagar, a former Sangguniang Kabataan representative who sat in the council in 2007-2010, was elected, even without the endorsement of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte, and against the backdrop of the culture in her milieu: women do not traditionally participate in leadership roles within their tribes.

“I am exerting my right to get that chance to represent the Kagans in the council even if I am a woman because nowhere in the law does it say that we are not allowed to occupy this position,” said Ms. Sudagar, a graduate of political science from the Ateneo de Davao University.

Ms. Sudagar was up against seven other candidates, all men, two of whom conceded before the voting that had been postponed twice.

Republic Act 8371 or The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 provides for the allocation of a seat to an IP representative in the local government council.

Ms. Sudagar had said, before the announcement of winners, that she also deserves the post, given her lineage.

“It is customary that choosing a leader must be pure Kagan and must be a member of a royal family,” said Ms. Sudagar said.

She received the majority vote of 147 from among the 382 Baragwas present.

Among her plans as IPMR for the next three years is to push for the inclusion of “tribal education” in the regular school curriculum.

Ms. Sudagar will not immediately assume her council seat, as the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) will must first assess her documentary submissions then issue a Certificate of Affirmation.

“That will be her proof of authority...until she will take her oath,” said Cristito Ingay, NCIP provincial director for Davao del Sur who was present during the election.

Mr. Duterte, however, said he will turn down the final recommendation of Ms. Sudagar as IPMR representative because other IP leaders should be given a chance to serve in the council, of which she had already been a member before, as the mayor noted.

But NCIP legal officer Ronnie Bulotano said the mayor had no authority under law in selecting an IP council representative.

“The selection process is clearly an activity involving the IPs only and the mayor does not have any role in the matter except perhaps [to] endorse an aspirant,” Mr. Bulotano said.

Mr. Ingay declined to comment on the mayor’s position but said, “As much as possible our (NCIP) role is limited to facilitation and documentation.”