MANILA — Mayor Gabino P. Ganggangan of Sadanga town in Mt. Province said waiving relief food packs in favor of those who need them most was within his judgement call and discretion as local chief executive in the wake of a national emergency due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Ganggangan, in his Facebook post on May 1, was reacting to Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) chairperson Windel Bolinget who criticized him for refusing relief food packs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development in favor of those families who needed it most in the urban cities, and other areas.
“We don’t have the luxury of time to go and consult every ‘umili (people) in town’,” he said. “Calling for a village assembly to have a “collective decision of the umili, as CPA, Mr. Bolinget, would wish to, would violate the protocols of the ECQ which prohibits crowd gathering activities.”
In an earlier post, he said what he did was not a senseless rejection or refusal to “boast” that the Sadanga people are rich, but rather to give way to those who immediately need it most like the urban poor families and other less fortunate who are in a far more worst situations than they are.
“At that time (March 30) , we see on TV urban poor families grumbling of no food, quarreling to get over at the other to get the first chance to have relief food packs being distributed by the DSWD just so to feed their hungry family. Knowing that my constituents, who are themselves rice producing farmers/ families have enough rice (palay) supply that can last for the next 2 months or more and likewise aware that the less fortunate families in the urban places are already complaining of hunger and angry for food assistance, I made that decision as an act of humanitarian concern and favor to them,” he added.
He said when President Duterte declared the National Health Emergency and decided to impose the Enhance Community Quarantine (ECQ), which in the first place caused all these social and economic dislocations to everyone, he did not first subject it to a plebiscite or referendum to consult the Filipino people.
“He did it invoking his executive power in the exercise of his duty and part of his functions,” he said, adding that when congressmen and senators passed the “Bayanihan Act” law to respond to this COVID-19 emergency situation of the country, they did not go home to their respective legislative districts to consult their constituents.
They just did it as part of their duty and in the exercise of their legislative functions, he said.
“By virtue of the people’s mandate bestowed upon them during the election, and pursuant to their oath of office they took during their assumption to office, some powers were already delegated to elected officials to exercise in the discharge of their duties and functions,” Ganggangan said.“Do we now question their actions because there was no consultation done to the umili, and accuse them of wrong decisions because it was not a collective decision” of the umili as you assert?”
“For your information, Mr. Bolinget and CPA, the sum of our rice production here in Sadanga can be managed to sustain us all as a people until the next harvest season by resorting to our indigenous gawat-abush system,” he said.
Assuming that Sadanga’s rice production will run out and not enough for everybody, Ganggangan assured that he is very much prepared and ready to spend the town’s disaster and risk management fund as some of the 20% of development funds if necessary to keep his constituents safe from hunger.
“We, the Sadanga People are not rich but we can still eat 3 times a day, full-year with or without ECQ,” he added.
Igorots, Cordillerans not beggars
He added that Igorots/ Kaigorotan and Cordillerans were reared and grown to be self-reliant, self-resilient, and to live a simple life with what they have within our means.
“No one and nobody ever authorized you to beg for us the indigenous peoples (IP) of the Cordillera and the marginalized sectors in Baguio City. You simply arrogated unto yourself these kinds of money-making ventures because you had been used to doing so for decades now,” he said, referring to Bolinget.
Ganggangan said he believes Bolinget’s CPA did not consult the IPs and other communities in Baguio City and Cordillera before they solicit for them neither did they consult the people and make a collective decision asking or allowing you to beg for them.
“On April 10, they posted again in the CPA FB account another “APPEAL” reiterating their solicitation for financial donations. Here they are again as they always do, keep on painting a “beggar image” of us Igorots / Kaigorotan and other IP’s in Cordillera as if we are a “helpless people” begging for alms in order to survive?,” he added.
He also told Bolinget and the CPA not to belittle his people’s capacity and willingness to look at each other’s welfare especially in crisis times because it is their natural ugali (character) as a tribal community.
“You are doubtless of this ugali because you simply don’t have it in your consciousness and in your heart. It is because your life has been influenced by your ideology based on Marxism, Leninism, or the many other isms you mastered to lecture about which you had been brainwashed with,” his earlier Facebook post read.
He said the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) ideology only teaches Bolinget to overthrow the duly-constituted Government and put up a CPP-run government by means of an armed overthrow being waged by the NPA that they call a revolution
“Mr. Bolinget, CPA, and all the other leftist and legal fronts that had been, and until now, are supportive to the CPA-NPA; you had been up to now a complicit in the bloody murders of our fellow Cordillerans who are members of legal/legitimate armed service such as PNP, Army, Marines, etc.,” he added.
He said they are their brothers, uncles, parents, or relatives and they shall partly share and forever carry in their hearts and conscience the proportionate guilt of their participation in all the murders.
‘Stop your subversive complicity in the guise of defending the right of the indigenous people,” he urged. “I repeat, we, the Igorots and other indigenous people of the Cordillera never bestowed on you any trust or mandate to represent us nor to speak for us as a people.” (ia/PNA)