NCIP exec accused of ?misrepresenting? indigenous peoples

Members of the Tribal Council and Peace Advocates in the region, in a general assembly held here on Wednesday, had agreed to make Serrano pay for committing the ‘grave mistake’ of misrepresenting the tribes in the government.

In a position paper submitted to Malacañang, the tribal leaders said that Serrano should pay the tribe 10 carabaos (water buffalos) and that the graft court must investigate her alleged involvement in some ‘anomalies’ at the regional office of the NCIP.

Datu Marino Icdang, one of the tribal leaders that attended the meeting, said that they investigated Serrano’s genealogy and that they found out she is a resident of Davao City, which is part of Region 11. 

The commissioner was born in a town in Davao del Sur, which is also not part of Region 12, Icdang added.

So when we traced her roots, she was never a member of any tribe in central Mindanao,” said Datu Fulong Fernando Lawi-an, another tribal leader.

Lawi-an said that Serrano’s re-appointment as NCIP commissioner for Region 12 was “tainted with politics” and that her ‘misrepresentation’ is a clear violation of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA).

Serrano’s re-appointment was signed by President Arroyo on February 16, 2007. She was NCIP commissioner for Region 12 from 2004 to 2006.

Serrano, in an interview with radio station dxND, denied the accusations hurled against her and that the move to oust her from the position is the handiwork of “one person who has vested interest.”

She named Ronald Adamat, a Teduray leader from Shariff Kabungsuwan province and Charter Change Advocacy commissioner, as behind the move.

Mr. Adamat has applied for the position I’m holding right now but lost.  He can’t accept that so he convinced other tribal leaders to write a petition calling for my ouster,” she said.

She said she does not recognize that group that sent the petition to Malacañang. “I don’t think that group exists. These are only few persons who are up against me and they do not represent majority of the tribes in the region,” she stressed.

Serrano, who claimed to be a B’laan native, said that her ancestry is in Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat, a province in Region-12. She was also married to a T’boli and lived in a town in Sarangani, which belongs to the same region.

So why question my representation of the IP in the national government? I do stand for the natives in the region. Those are all lies,” she told DXND.

Adamat, in a radio interview, admitted that he attended the meeting where the participants agreed to petition for Serrano’s ouster. He denied, however, that he masterminded the move and that he had a personal interest in it.

I can’t dictate these leaders on what to do. They believed they were misrepresented. I did not coerce them to think that way. They decided on that,” he insisted.