SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, Antique – Antique's first indigenous peoples (IP) representative said on Saturday he would prioritize the construction of access roads and hiring of more IP teachers as he started his work at the municipal council in Valderrama.
Elpedio Canja, a member of Iraynon Bukidnon and who was sworn as Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) by Valderrama Mayor Mary Joyce Roquero on Aug. 26, said he will sponsor resolutions requesting funds to provide an access road leading to their communities and hiring of teachers.
“I intend to pass a resolution requesting for the construction of an access road leading to Barangay Culiat,” he said in an interview.
Canja will be representing the 3,366 Iraynon Bukidnon IPs in the town.
Barangay Culiat, which leads to another IP village in Barangay Busog, is about 15 to 20 kilometers away from the town proper of Valderrama.
Both barangays are producers of coffee, palay, corn, and banana.
Without an access road, residents need to hire a horse to haul their produce to the market at PHP200 to PHP300 per sack.
"For a sack of banana they had to pay PHP200 for the hauling and could sell it only for PHP500 in the market, leaving the producer with PHP300 as income. If not sold, their products will just get spoiled, " Canja said.
“If we have the access road, the IPs could easily transport their products to the market,” he added.
Aside from the construction of access roads, Canja will also be urging the Department of Education (DepEd) Schools Division of Antique to hire more IP teachers.
He said the DepEd Order Number 50, series of 2016 gives leeway for IPs who are graduates of education courses to be hired in schools implementing IP education.
To date, there are only about 15 teachers hired to teach in public schools in Valderrama.
Valderrama is the first town in Antique to have an IPMR.
Under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997, Valderrama is qualified to have an IPMR because of the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title in Barangays San Agustin, Busog, and Culiat.
Canja was selected by four IP leaders when they convened on Jan. 21, 2021. His term will end in 2024. (PNA)