WHEN a commissioner of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the primary agency tasked to fight and protect the rights of IPs, is invited by the lawmakers of an LGU to be grilled with questions regarding his actions that criticized Igorots of the Cordillera, Lumads of Mindanao and Tumandoks of the Visayas, this calls for an immediate resignation of that official.
At least, the latest move by the Baguio City Council, composed mostly of Igorot legislators, was to call Commissioner Gaspar A. Cayat for him to physically appear before them to clarify derisive claims he made against the word “Igorot” during a public forum on March 21, 2021.
Six of the Igorot legislators moved for the approval of the resolution while the rest of the councilors seconded the measure “in aid of legislation to invite NCIP Commissioner Gaspar Anuman Cayat to explain and elucidate his rebuke not to use the word ‘Igorot’ by claiming that the word is the exact word used by the CPP-NPA-NDF or the Communist Terrorist Groups before the Sanguniang Panlungsod of Baguio”.
Apart from being witnessed publicly by those in physical attendance during the forum on March 21, 2021; the city council said the statement of Cayat was publicized and posted on Facebook Live by the NCIP-CAR FB page and was viewed, shared, and commented on by numerous IPs.
The video footage on Facebook drew hatred, several negative dislikes, and irked the IPs, not only those residing in Baguio but also those who have relocated abroad or somewhere but trace their roots in the Cordillera.
Cayat, during the public forum, was caught stating: “I want to caution or refrain you ladies and gentlemen that these words – Igorot, Lumad and ‘Tumandok are the very words being used by the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) or the Communist Terrorist Groups” (CTGs).
The city council resolution said that “Cayat openly, wittingly and without any ounce of afterthought whatsoever, emphasized that the term ‘Igorot’ is the language of the CPP-NPA-NDF or Communist rebels in the country.
So that apart from sowing confusion, Cayat’s public pronouncement created a chilling effect among the IPs in the Cordillera, particularly those using the word ‘Igorot’, as possible members of the CTGs,” said the city council resolution.
I saw the video footage and heard for myself his statements that red-tagged the Igorots, I asked: “OMG, what is happening to Cayat? Maybe his loyalty has shifted from IPs that he is mandated to serve, to one he is indebted to personally; or maybe he is no longer in his good senses. My opinion.
Whatever, Cayat placed himself in hot water because of his statements against Igorots. In fact, he red-tagged the Igorots, Lumads, and Tumandoks. By doing so, Cayat practically appeared like one who swallowed his own hook, line, and sinker with his own mouth.
There are other instances where Cayat was accused of irregularities and wrongdoings. I can write about them in a future column. But as I said earlier, maybe the NCIP official is no longer in his good senses. He should resign!
The question now is: Will Cayat accept the city council invitation and appear before them? If yes, the councilors may or may not be clarified. Remember, some people, in one way or another, have dealt with the official in the recent past.
If Cayat will not accept the invitation, what will be the Plan B move of the city council? Maybe it can issue a “persona non grata” resolution against Cayat. Then the rest of the LGU councils in the Cordillera can do the same.
But, recall that the city council in 2009 issued a resolution of “persona non grata” against one Candy Pangilinan who jokingly uttered “tao po ako hindi Igorot” which resulted in condemnation from the Igorot community of Baguio leading to her eviction.
And the persona-non-grata against Candy Pangilinan was later withdrawn after the actress appeared before the Igorot lawmakers at the city council and asked for forgiveness.
Two of the Igorot legislators in 2009 namely; councilors Jose M. Molintas and Fred Bagbagen who pushed for the persona-non-grata against Candy Pangilinan, are sitting councilors today. Will Cayat ask for forgiveness from the Igorots, Lumads and Tumandoks whom he scorned, insulted, and red-tagged? I doubt it. He better resign!