The budget deliberation of the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) has been deferred or rescheduled for the second time now, thanks to Makabayan bloc lawmakers.
The NCIP is an attached agency of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Its initial budget hearing at the Committee on Appropriations level was shut down after Gabriela Women’s Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas motioned to defer it..
During the House plenary debates on the 2023 budget on Friday, Sept. 23, the House motioned to terminate the budget deliberations of the DSWD and its attached agencies, except that of the NCIP.
Deputy Speaker Antipolo City 1st district Rep. Roberto Puno presided over the session.
Two Makabayan bloc lawmakers, Brosas and Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel, interpellated on the budget of the NCIP Friday. But it was Brosas who again motioned for the NCIP budget deferment.
Manuel and Brosas criticized NCIP Chairman Allen Capuyan during their respective interpellations.
Brosas raised the Commission on Audit's (COA) findings on the NCIP under Capuyan’s watch.
In 2019, the NCIP spent P3.83 million and P979,695 and meals for various programs and activities in Region X. These NCIP activities were conducted at high-end hotels and restaurants. In 2020, the NCIP spent P1-million for a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) regional workshop. In 2021, the NCIP spent P725,890 for tablets for agency officials and employees.
“Mula nang maupo si Capuyan, sunod-sunod yung findings ng COA (Ever since Capuyan took over, the COA’s findings have continued to surface),” she said.
Brosas then cited an NCIP memorandum which suspended the Indigenous People Mandatory Representative (IPMR) selection process in all levels, something that she believed was beyond the mandate of the NCIP.
Lastly, she cited an “anomalous” project of the NCIP, which saw the launch of indigenous peoples (IP)-themed coffeetable books. The books were titled after the IPEACE Epanaw party-list.
She explained that the funds for the coffeetable book project, about P7 million, had come from the Tourism Promotion Board. On top of this, the agency allegedly requested for even more funds from mining groups based in Surigao Del Norte.
“I move to defer the budget of the NCIP, particularly for this deliberation,” Brosas said, marking the second budget deferral of the NCIP in the ongoing budget proceedings.
Meanwhile, Manuel cited a video which showed Capuyan endorsing the IPEACE Epanaw Party-list group.
“Merong resolution ang (There is a resolution from the) Civil Service Commission (CSC) na nag-re-reiterate ng mga batas at alituntunin na nagbabawal sa ating civil servants sa (that reiterates laws and policies on forbidding civil servants from) electioneering or partisan political activity,” Manuel said.
“Meron po tayong impormasyon na noong (We received information that on) May 6, 2022, ay nagpatawag ng isang meeting ang NCIP through its chairperson, Capuyan. Ito po ay meeting, di umano, ng mga IP mandatory representatives (the NCIP held a meeting through Capuyan, a meeting–allegedly–of IP mandatory representatives)...Meron po tayong natanggap na ulat (We received reports) that for participants, it turned out to be a venue for electioneering by the chairperson,” Manuel alleged.
“I appeal to the DSWD to replace the chairperson of the NCIP...he should resign,” Manuel concluded.
Quirino lone district Rep. Midy Cua and Benguet lone district Rep. Eric Yap took turns in sponsoring the NCIP budget in plenary.
During the appropriations panel budget deliberations, Makabayan lawmakers similarly–and successfully–moved for the deferment of the NCIP budget.
Brosas’s previous motion to defer the NCIP’s budget was made on the basis of Capuyan's statements, which she said were acts of red-tagging.