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Opinion Sideglance

RTC halts appropriation of funds for IPMR office

The Regional Trial Court, Branch 6 in the City of Baguio, thru its order dated January 22, 2018 issued by Acting Presiding Judge Cecilia Corazon S. Dulay-Archog has enjoined the City Mayor, City Vice Mayor and members of the City Council – as public respondents – from appropriating any budget for the salary of Mr. Roger Sinot, Sr. and the office of the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) even as the said court extended for an additional period of 17 days from January 22, 2018 the 72-hour Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) earlier issued by the Executive Judge in Civil Case 8783-R for injunction with prayer for issuance of writ of preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order, in order not to render matters moot and academic in the said case.

The said civil case involved Atty. Manuel Cuilan, Mr. Paul Pasigon, Mr. Joseph Sacley and Mr. Gaspar Cayat as petitioners and with Mr. Roger Sinot, Sr. the City Government of Baguio, the City Mayor Honorable Mauricio Domogan, the City Vice Mayor Honorable Edison Bilog and all the members of the City Council as respondents.

In the order of the court, it was bared that the court took into consideration the respective arguments made by the parties and the careful determination as to the propriety of the issuance of a TRO. The court further averred that it would like to look into the matter more in detail to determine the respective rights of the parties as well as the balancing of the conflicting interests of the petitioners and the concerned respondent public officials as well as the person being restrained.

The court order also mentioned that Civil Case No. 8783-R was consolidated on January 22, 2018, during raffle and upon motion, with a Special Civil Action docketed as Civil Case No. 8785-R filed by the City of Baguio for Interpleader with Prayer for Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and Writ for Preliminary Injunction against Mr. Roger Sinot, Sr., Atty. Manuel Cuillan, Paul Pasigon and Joseph Sacley.

In full, the order of the court was stated thus: “premises considered, the application for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is granted for an additional 17 days commencing on January 22, 2018 enjoining and restraining Mr. Roger Sinot, Sr. from assuming or exercising authority as Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) or member of the Baguio City Council, enjoining the public respondents from committing any act that would recognize Mr. Sinot as IPMR or member of the City Council; and enjoining the public respondents from appropriating any budget for the salary of Mr. Roger Sinot, Sr. and of the IPMR Office”.

It can be recalled that the case stemmed from the opposition to the selection of Mr. Sinot as the IPMR in the City Council representing the local Indigenous Peoples’ (IPs) in the city of Baguio and which selection was recognized by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and later on affirmed by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples’ (NCIP).

With respect to those opposing the selection of Mr. Sinot as IPMR they contend that as IPs’ themselves they were excluded from the selection process that elected the former and that they have filed a protest before the NCIP National Office regarding the matter and which is presently still being resolved by the said office.

Finally, the court has set the hearing on the applications for the issuance of Writ of Preliminary Injunction, in both cases, on February 2, 2018 at 11:00 o’clock in the morning, and with the parties directed to comply with the Judicial Affidavit Rule.