“Warm welcome” for jittery IP rep on Valentine’s Day eve

EXCITING DAY for first timer Max Edwin Hilario, seen here posing at the entrance of the session hall before the city council met last February 13. It was the first and the first for the Indigenous People Mandatory Representative to join a city council session since one was appointed six years ago. PML  

It was an eventful day for newcomer Max Edwin Hilario when he joined Monday his first ever city council meeting and the first time that an Indigenous People Mandatory Representatve was chosen six years ago.

Hilario, who joined the sessions on the eve of Valentine’s Day gets to see a councilor who received flowers right before the session started and was later almost in tears after she felt being persecuted and a City Council regular attendee got himself declared persona non grata just when session was about to end.

Throw in a journalist who was grilled by the city council for a write up which did not sit well with the Department of Education – Baguio Division.

It took six years for an IP representative to sit at the city council after the first was rejected and never got a chance to assume office. Roger Sinot was barred from assuming office when he was named the IPMR in 2017 thanks to the complaints of then mayor Mauricio Domogan and another Ibaloy which a local court found to have merits.

Hilario was jittery on his first day and took him time to steady his nerves. “Kabado (jittery),” said chief of staff Beauregard Carantes, a member of the famed Ibaloy band Bag-iw, the moss where the city got its name, who was with his boss at the entrance to the city council in front of the legislative offices.

Hilario excused himself and left and while he was gone, long time councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda came marching in to see a bouquet of flower at her desk. Tabanda took time to inspect the flower, read the note, smiled, sniffed it, then took it into her bosom before she finally sat.

Later, Tabanda emotionally defended herself after she was accused by a woman to be corrupt. The allegation stemmed after the previous city council, of which she was a member, ruled in favor of another family over their claim of a property. The claimants are relatives.

Much later in the session and when the city council members were ready to wrap things up, vice mayor and city council chair Faustino Olowan called on session mainstay and critic Peter Puzon to shed light on a concern.

Puzon goaded the members into a debate after urging them to retract the anti-distraction ordinance. Olowan said that he could file a case in a court of law to prove if the ordinance is unconstitutional.

But “citizen” Puzon uttered the four letter flowery word that irked the council members, declare him persona non grata and barred from entering the session hall in future council meetings.

Then there was Vincent Cabreza of the Philippine Daily Inquirer who was called to clarify an article which came out in the national broadsheet of students doing poorly in school which did not sit well with Baguio Division chief Federico Martin.

In between, the newly installed city councilor had to listen and joined in the discussion of land claims within the Philippine Military Academy, an issue which will fall under his jurisdiction as the IP representative and mandatory chair of the IP committee.

Hilario is expected to look into the land dispute between PMA and the Bontoc Organization of Purok Ongasan, Loakan, Incorporated (BOPOLI) with the former trying to enclose the 373 hectare military reservation wherein the structures of the latter’s members are located.

The BOPOLI has occupied a total of nearly three hectares, which its members claim was owned by their forefathers even before the World War II and predates the transfer of the academy in said area.

The city council has earlier approved a resolution stating that there shall be a “status quo” in the area pending the resolution of a land dispute between PMA and the BOPOLI. Pigeon Lobien



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