Sun. Jul 25th, 2021

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go hailed the authorization of payment of death and burial benefits to indigenous peoples’ mandatory representatives (IPMRs) in barangays who die during their term of office, citing that even before he ran for the Senate in 2019, he was at the forefront calling for such benefits to be granted.

Upon the senator’s recommendation, President Rodrigo Duterte issued last June 18 Executive Order No. 139, recognizing the invaluable contribution” of IPMRs in the barangays.

“Malaki po ang maitutulong at maidudulot nito sa mga kababayan nating katutubo, lalo na sa mga pamilya ng kanilang mga lider, sa gitna ng kasalukuyang pandemya,” he added.

It tasks the Department of the Interior and Local Government, as well as the Department of Budget and Management and the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples, with determining the amount to be used to cover IPMRs’ death and burial benefits.

Furthermore, EO 139 asserts that such compensation is in full compliance with the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 8371, also known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act. According to the said legislation, Indigenous peoples’ representatives in all policy-making bodies and local councils should have the same rights as regular members of the legislative and policy-making bodies they belong to.

Even before he became senator, Go had vowed to promote the interests and welfare of the IPs, saying he wants to make sure they are not marginalized in our society.

Two years ago, Go recommended to the Office of the President the grant of PhP3,000 Christmas incentives to elected barangay officials, including IPMRs, to show appreciation for their hard work in their respective communities.

“Wala po kaming ibang hangarin ni Pangulong Duterte kundi ang kabutihan ng bawat Pilipino dahil mahal namin kayo,” Go said.

The Senator has also been assisting indigenous communities affected by the pandemic. Last month, Go provided assistance to indigenous communities, former rebels and farmers in Mati City, Davao Oriental amid hardships caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

He also expressed his support for the construction of the Masandag Tribal Village in Tagum City, Davao del Norte which will offer housing to 400 members of indigenous groups in the area.

Under the signed agreement, the local government of Tagum City will provide five hectares of land for the project’s location at Brgy. Canocotan. Four cheques amounting to PHP80 million for Phases 1 to 4 were turned over to the LGU by the National Housing Authority. Once the funds are downloaded, the construction of the project will begin right away for completion next year.

The Tagum City Federation of Barangay Tribal Councils is designated for the proposal of the project and the selection of the 400 IP beneficiaries. Senator Go sent a video message during the ceremonial MOA signing, turnover of checks, and groundbreaking of the tribal village last May 19, saying “Sa wakas, matutupad na rin ang pangarap ng ating mga kapatid na Lumad na magkaroon ng sariling bahay, at inyo na talaga itong mga bahay!” (SPH/AQP)

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