House defers debates on NCIP’s proposed 2023 budget

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 23 2022 08:39 PM

MANILA—The House of Representatives deferred Friday the plenary debates on the proposed 2023 budget for the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples on a motion by Makabayan bloc lawmakers.

Gabriela Party List Rep. Arlene Brosas and Kabataan Party List Rep. Raoul Manuel called for either the removal or resignation of NCIP Chairperson Allen Capuyan.

Brosas cited Commission on Audit reports flagging the conduct of most of NCIP’s activities in 2019 at “high-end hotels and restaurants where food and accommodation was relatively high compared to other alternative venues” and expenses for an NTF-ELCAC regional workshop in a resort in Agusan del Sur in 2020 amounting to P1 million. 

DSWD’s budget sponsor, Benguet Rep. Eric Yap, said the NCIP already explained the matter before the COA.

“Lahat ito ay may approval ni NCIP chair Capuyan, tama ba?” Brosas asked, during the House plenary debates.

“‘Yung 2019 and 2020 nasagot na po sa COA,” Yap replied.

“Policy ba ng NCIP sa ilalim ni Capuyan ang hindi sumunod sa direktiba ng austerity o pagtitipid? Kasi mula nang maupo si General Capuyan, sunud-sunod ang findings ng COA. Napansin nyo naman, 2019, 2020, 2021, maluho at excessive expenditures ng NCIP ito, Mr. Speaker,” Brosas added.

She also questioned NCIP’s coffee table project in 2020.

“’Yung ginastos dito ay mula sa TPB or ‘yung tinatawag na Tourism Promotion Board, which is P7 million. Mr. Speaker, sinulatan po ang iba’t ibang mining firm group… yan ang ginawa ng NCIP na tingin namin parang galawang sindikato. Pinondohan na natin mula sa ating bulsa, kumuha pa ng mga magpopondo pa ulit. Medyo malaki at marami itong cases na ito. Hindi pwedeng walang managot,” Brosas said.

“Dapat magkaroon ng konting delicadeza sa pamumuno ng NCIP. As head of the NCIP, and as a commissioner of the NCIP, hinihiling namin na ma-remove si Chairman Allen Capuyan sa NCIP. Therefore, I move to defer the budget of NCIP, particularly for this deliberation,” she added.

“I interpose no objection,” Yap replied.

Manuel, meanwhile, accused Capuyan of engaging in partisan political activity last campaign season, which is prohibited among civil servants. 

“Ito ay sinabi ni Mr. Allen Capuyan. I quote, 'February, March, April. Mayroon pa kayong isang o dalawang araw, today atsaka bukas, at mayroon kayong Sunday para sa paghanda para sa mobilization ninyo sa Monday. Para ang lahat ng sinasabi ninyo at sinasabi natin ay matuldukan na sa araw ng Lunes. IPEACEEPANAW party list group No. 171 sa balota. Wag n’yo pong kalimutan ‘yun aking mga kapatid na IPMRs, isulong n’yo,'" Manuel said.

NCIP’s budget sponsor, Quirino Rep. Midy Cua, denied this.

“(It) was not a political partisan activity. It is an activity to advance the political indigenous rights,” Cua claimed.

But Manuel rejected Cua's statement, saying it was clearly a partisan political activity.

"Actually, batay na rin sa resolution na inilabas ng Civil Service Commission, dapat pa nga, ma-disqualify to hold public office ang opisyal, o pwede rin siyang ma-suspend, pwede rin siyang makulong … I appeal to the DSWD to replace the chairperson of the NCIP. Or kung may natitira pa pong paggalang sa batas at sa mamamayan ang NCIP Chair, he should resign,” he said.

Reporters tried to get Capuyan’s side on Makabayan lawmakers’ allegations, but he refused to comment.