DILG assures benefits to barangay IP representatives

Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representatives (IPMRs) in the barangays, who died during their term of office, are entitled to P12,000 death and burial benefits similar to their counterparts in sangguniang barangay, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Saturday, Oct. 29.

DILG Secretary Benjamin ‘Benhur’ Abalos, Jr. explained that DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2022-132 dated Oct. 20, 2022 states that the beneficiaries must submit their application to the DILG field offices with the following documentary requirements to claim the death and burial benefits: accomplished Death Benefit Claim (DBC) form; oath of office; certificate of incumbency; certified true copy of the death certificate of the deceased barangay official; and, photocopy of a government-issued identification card of the claimant.

Beneficiaries must also submit an original or certified true copy of documents that prove their relation to the deceased barangay official, such as marriage certificate and birth certificate, among others.

But Abalos emphasized that “the beneficiaries are not entitled to the cash benefit if the cause of the barangay official’s death is “either suicide or his/her own unlawful acts resulting to his/her death.”

“The department’s regional and field offices and the National Barangay Operations Office are now hard at work in evaluating and processing the application and documentary requirements of the IPMR beneficiaries to ensure that they are correct and complete. Huwag po kayong mag-alala, tutukan po natin ito para makatulong man lang sa inyo (Do not worry, we will focus on this to help you),” Abalos said.

Abalos pointed to “the IPMRs’ contribution to nation-building and their important work at the grassroots level in preserving their heritage and upholding their human rights cannot be dismissed.’’

He said that the local government units (LGUs) must extend all necessary assistance so that their bereaved beneficiaries can receive the said amount of death and burial aid.

“IPMRs are vital Sanggunian Barangay members because they are the ones who ensure that their voices as members of the IP communities are heard. LGUs must ensure that their families receive the death and burial assistance accorded to them by the law,” Abalos asserted.

“It’s the least that we can do for our IP public servants. They deserve to have the same privileges enjoyed by barangay officials and other members of the Sanggunian,” he added.

Abalos also instructed the DILG field offices to verify or evaluate the submitted application for death and burial benefit claims; submit the request/s for claims to DILG provincial/regional offices (POs/ROs) within one working day upon receipt and regularly monitor the status of the request; prepare and issue the payment checks due to the beneficiaries within seven working days upon receipt of funds; inform the beneficiaries once the checks are ready for release and pick-up and remind them to bring proof of identity when claiming the check; and, administer the Client Satisfaction Survey (CSS) using the unified CSS form and submit it to the POs/ROs, among others.

“Maliit na tulong lamang ito para sa mga naiwanan ng ating mga IPMRs kapalit ng kanilang paglilingkod kaya napakahalagang ito ay makarating sa kanilang mga beneficiaries (This is just a small token of aid for the families left behind by the IPMRs in exchange for their service that is why it is important for their beneficiaries to receive the assistance),’’ Abalos noted.

Likewise, Abalos echoed President Ferdinand “Bongbong’’ Marcos, Jr.’s message for this year’s National IP Day and International Day of the World's IPs, urging everyone to “uplift each person and community in our archipelago, especially our Indigenous Peoples, the first Filipinos, our ‘Katutubos’, who have been integral to the preservation in passing on of our traditional knowledge and values.”

Section 16 of Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act 1997 provides the right of Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs)/IPs to participate at all levels of decision-making and obliges the State to ensure that ICCs/IPs are given mandatory representation in all local legislative councils and policy-making bodies. (Chito A. Chavez)