LAST week, I wrote that come May 2010 I will vote as an indigene. I am a Bontok - one of the major ethnolinguistic groups in the Cordillera. The reason is simple.

Indigenous peoples (IPs) of the Philippines have yet to be fully recognized as leaders and capable professional managers in national offices in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). The recent appointment of Director Baguilat to head the regional office of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources in the Cordillera is a most welcome development for all Cordillerans working in national offices. By Cordilllerans I mean the IPs of the Cordillera.

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Again I challenge the emerging meaning of who is the Cordilleran? And this definition who is the Cordilleran is: the Cordilleran can be anyone who lived in the any part of the Cordillera for at least two years. I emphasize that this domicile-based definition of who is the Cordilleran was a provision of the draft-organic act, which was overwhelmingly rejected by Cordillerans in the first plebiscite. Thus such definition of who is the Cordilleran together with all other provisions of that draft-organic act does not stay. The second draft-organic act carried the same provison.

Again Cordillerans rejected it and consequently all its provisions including the definition of who is the Cordilleran. The most recent survey conducted by the the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples shows that more than 90 percent of the population of the Cordillera Administrative Region are IPs.

It was the IPs who rejected the draft-organic acts. The Cordilleran is the IP in the Cordillera.

In my last column I asked: is there any official paper or isuance after the rejection of the two -draft organic acts that categorically defines that the Cordilleran can be anyone who lived in the Cordillera for at least two years? If there is, then can anyone who has such official issuance show me or at least publish it.

A few weeks ago the changing of guards in the DPWH-CAR saddened us. Engineer Roy

Manao - a career executive officer and a Cordilleran was replaced by a non-Cordileran.

Manao hails from Natonin, Mountain Province. Above the speculations that Manao's replacement as a result of the lobbying by a Cordillera, still to this indigene, Manao's replacement is one of the obvious disregard of the managerial capacities of Cordillerans by national government.

For the national leadership to give way to the "whims" of politicians is definitely not sound. Doing so, is not preparing us - the Cordillerans for a genuine regional autonomy in the Cordillera. This continuing disregard for professional Cordillerans to head national offices in the Cordillera is not only divisive among us Cordillerans.

It does not prepare Cordillerans for genuine "regional autonomy", as those who fought for that regional autonomy for the Cordillera a provision of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. It does not lend credence to E.0.220, a legacy of the late President Corazon Aquino, who by all measures remains an icon of democracy of the Philippines.