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Ifugao congressman: Government must involve, consult Lumads in crafting Bangsamoro law

FOR Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, indigenous groups in Mindanao should take part in the ongoing consultation and have an influence in crafting the bill that will create the Bangsomoro region to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao.

Baguilat is, in fact, meeting with the Lumads of Mindanao to hear their sentiments, especially as the consultations are now being fast-tracked to make the Bangsamoro Basic Law catch its submission to Congress before the end of the year.

He is the vice chairman of the National Cultural Communities committee of the House of Representatives. 

Rep. Nancy Catamco, chairman of the Committee on National Cultural Communities, will also be conducting dialogues in Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Davao to get a consensus among the indigenous peoples (IPs) on ancestral-domain rights in the Bangsamoro.

Since the proposed law will put into effect the autonomy of the Bangsa-moro region which should ensure the rights of the IPs in the region would be protected, it is thus urgent for more IP representatives to take part in the talks, Baguilat said.

“I feel it would be a historical aberration if the Lumads’ rights will be sidetracked for the sake of a peaceful settlement with the [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] and our government. There can be no genuine peace if the rights of the first people are not adequately addressed,” he said.

Baguilat has heard of the fear of indigenous groups that their rights would be trampled upon with the passing of the Bangsamoro law, despite the fact that IP leaders have signified support for the peace process.

“IP leaders are wary of the possibility that their rights as the first people of Mindanao might be forsaken in favor of other groups,” Baguilat said.

A press statement said Baguilat is urging government negotiators to widen the scope of consultations so that the discussions will not be limited to the MILF and the national government, which signed the landmark peace pact.

“I am committed to work for the passage of the Bangsamoro law as soon as Congress resumes its
sessions and I will try to make sure that the law will not trample on the mandates of other laws protecting the indigenous peoples such as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act,” he said.

“The Bangsamoro law must be just and historically correct and should recognize the IPs’ rights to their ancestral lands and their right to self-determination as enshrined in the IPRA and United Nations conventions,” Baguilat said.

He earlier recommended that President Aquino certify the bill as urgent and include it in his next State of the Nation address as a show of strong resolve to see the law passed as soon as possible.

Baguilat said the Philippines stands to gain much from lasting peace, especially in Mindanao.





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