Indigenous Peoples (IP) representative in the Davao City Council
Ata chieftain Mamboo is lumad rep in Davao City Council
BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Tribal custom pushed aside mandated process on Saturday in the election of mandatory representative for Indigenous Peoples (IP) in the Davao City Council, who was declared winner and proclaimed under an emotion-filled tribal ceremony, held at the council session hall.
About 500 lumad voters from far-flung Paquibato District in colorful tribal attire witnessed the installation of Barangay Mapula tribal leader Datu Severino Mamboo by lone rival Datu Jose Amban of Barangay Pandaitan, who withdrew his bid prior to the actual voting.
The tribal natives gave the event tribal color by starting with a blood offering by slitting the throat of a white-feathered chicken right on the floor of the session hall.
But in his introductory speech, Datu Amban withdrew from the contest, making Datu Mamboo the lone candidate for the post, “for the sake of the lumad unity as wished by Mayor Sara Duterte and Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.”
Datu Amban’s withdrawal shocked and surprised the lumads which jampacked the session hall and gave the tribal leader a standing ovation and a rousing applause during the most-emotion filled portion of the election process.
As the lumads cried at the sudden turn of events, tearful tribal leaders rushed to the middle of the session hall to embrace Amban and Mamboo, thanking the former for his sacrifice for the sake of tribal unity.
Amban run but lost as a candidate under Team Nograles of former Speaker Prospero Nograles in the Seond District city council race in the May elections last year where Mayor Sara Duterte defeated Nograles by more than 220,000 votes.
With the mandated election process pushed aside by tribal custom, Ata tribal council chair Joel Manalangan affirmed Mamboo as the Ata tribes’ representative to the local legislative body.
I was moved to tears, said Merilo Limbaro, city officer of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), in his speech during the closing ceremony.
Limbaro witnessed the dramatic event with National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Davao del Sur provincial officer Cris Ingay, City Planning and Development officer Roberto Alabado, Business Bureau chief Dwight Domingo who represented Mayor Duterte, city councilors Conrado Baluran, jJashera Conzales, Jackson Reyes, Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling and Marissa Salvador Abella. Cabling, chair of the council Committee on Muslim Affairs and Indigenous Peoples, authored the city ordinance creating the mandatory representative mandated by the Indigenous Peoples Right Act (IPRA). Abella is co-chair of the committee.
At the tail-end of the event, Limbaro declared the election process in order and Ingay affirming the election of Mamboo as provided by the rules government election of the mandatory representative to the local legislative council.
Serving no purpose in the election were four empty bottles waiting for the votes of the lumads. Had the mandated election process pushed through, the lumads, under Ata custom of voting, would have lined up to place a corn seed in the bottle with the name of their candidate.
Two other candidates were supposed to join the contest but also withdrew prior to the Saturday election: Tapak barangay captain Arturo Ali and tribal leader Joel Onad, vice chair of the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCD).
The Cabling ordinance alphabetically named the tribes whose representatives would sit in the council, with the Ata tribe getting the first crack. The other tribes are Clata, Guiangan, Matigsalog, Obo-Manuobo and local Muslim tribe Kagan (Kalagan).
Mamboo would be the first IP representative to sit in the Davao City Council since the approval of the ordinance in 2010.