On September 8, 2015, Datu Diamla Rolando So-ong, an MPI scholar and member of the Resource-Based Conflict and Peacebuilding Training Program Project Management Committee, formally took his seat as the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR), equivalent to a city councilor, for Iligan City, Philippines.
According to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples' guidelines from 2010, The powers, duties and functions of IP mandatory representatives shall be the same as that of the regular members of local legislative councils … However, IPs mandatory representatives shall focus on the representation of the collective interests of ICCs (Indigenous Cultural Communities)/IPs; ensure support for the sustained constitution and operations of the IPCB (Indigenous Peoples Consultative Body) in their respective areas of jurisdiction; and maintain the development and practice of ICCs/IPs traditional leadership titles and structures, justice systems, conflict resolution institutions, and peace building mechanisms and processes that are compatible with the national legal system and with internationally recognized human rights.
Shortly after he learned of this, Datu Diamla wrote the following:
To my family in MPI, CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development), EcoWEB (Ecosystems Works for Essential Benefits, Inc.), and PDSI (Pikhumpongan Dlibon Subanen, Inc.),
My being the representative in the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council) in the 15th Council Iligan City. is my honor because I will really use my training from partner NGOs, especially the conflict transformation training.
All of you are part of the success of the Higaonon tribe in Bayug A.D. (Ancestral Domain).
Thanks and Magbabaya bless us all!