Rey Anthony Chiu
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, July 24, 2012 (PIA) – If one is diligent enough to dig into the employee records of police officers and firemen, chances are one finds several indigenous people among them.
Or, at least, that is what indigenous people residing in a community in Lundag, Pilar claim, over the practice of police and firemen applicants securing a certification as members of the indigenous people to pass through a specific height requirement for service personnel in the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
In a chance meeting with government authorities and the Eskaya community in Lundag, leaders of the cultural minority group in Bohol bemoaned of a practice by police or firemen applicants who “suddenly become indigenous people” just to pass the height requirement for government.
At the meeting July 21, 2012 in Lundag were Department of Social Welfare and development national and regional offices representatives, Pilar Mayor Wilson Pajo, town leaders and barangay officials as well as representatives from the indigenous community including their tribal leader.
It may be recalled that according to Section 30 (h) of Republic Act (RA) 6975 or the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Act of 1990, as amended by RA 1998, or the Philippine National Police Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998, the height must be at least 1.62m and 1.57m for male and female, respectively.
For applicant however who could not make the height requirement, especially for indigenous people who could be unjustly shut out of the possibility for service and employment, the law also provides that a waiver for height and age requirements shall be automatically granted to applicants belonging to the cultural communities.
The provision of law however is interpreted rather interestingly by applicants not members of any cultural minorities as several have allegedly asked certifications from IP leaders of the waiver.
This should be stopped, stresses Mayor Wilson Pajo, who has himself been asked to attest to waivers which supposedly came from tribal leaders.
By putting in non tribe members, many of their eligible men could not anymore get in government as most positions are easily filled by people who claim as tribe members, Pajo said. (30)