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Teduray leaders: Lumad rights left out of Bangsamoro basic law

NON-MORO minority groups in Mindanao said Lumad rights may have been left out of the draft of the Bangsamoro basic law (BBL), saying those who crafted the proposed law dismissed all their submissions as “informal documents.”

Without a clear delineation of the rights of the indigenous peoples (IP) under the BBL, the would-be charter of the Bangsamoro Political Entity (BPE), the IPs’ rights would not be respected, they said.

The basic rights of IPs are already vested in the 1987 Constitution, the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) and other international instruments such as the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

This has significant impact on the IP since many areas where abundant natural resources could be found in the BPE territory are under IP control or are covered by their applications for the release of certificates of ancestral domain titles.

These issues have been raised by representatives of Teduray communities who went to Manila to lobby for the inclusion of IP rights in the BBL.

“We support the enactment of the BBL,” said Timuay Santos Unsad, “but with indigenous peoples’ rights included.”

Timuay is an indigenous term to denote “community leader.”  

In a media briefing, six female and male Lumad leaders led by Unsad, a Teduray leader and deputy Supreme Chief of Timuay Justice and Governance, said they have always been supportive of the claims and struggles of the Moros, but the non-Moro IPs within the proposed BPE “have yet to see the full and genuine recognition of their own identity as distinct from the Moros.”

Apart from Teduray, the Lambangian and Dulangan Manobo people live within the core area of the Bangsamoro.

“As a concrete manifestation of our support to the BBL, we have drafted and recommended provisions within the proposed law which would clarify our distinct identity as non-Moro indigenous people, recognize our ancestral domain, and respect our traditional self-governance,” Unsad said.  

“Yet, we fear that these were not included in the version that was sent to the Office of the President. We have not been given concrete assurance nor categorical statements from the government that there is full inclusion of our rights. All of our position papers, statements and documents submitted to the government during the peace talks were dismissed as ‘informal documents,’” he said.

The BBL, drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, was submitted to President Aquino for his endorsement as a priority bill in the two houses of Congress. 

No copy of the draft BBL has been given to the Lumads, the minority leaders said.

“We are now appealing to President Aquino to please heed and support our call for the full inclusion of our rights within the BBL. If the BBL is indeed a step toward  peace in Mindanao, then let it be peace for us Lumads, too,” said Fintailan Leonora Mokudef, vice chairman of the Teduray Women Leaders Organization Inc.

“We speak of peace, but on the ground, in our communities, peace is still elusive. Our people are insecure and live in fear. Armed groups roam our communities, claiming the lands we have inherited from our forefathers,” she said.

The absence of IP rights in the BBL would work for the best interest of large-scale mining companies and palm-oil plantation companies.

“Fintalian” is a title bestowed upon women Lumad leaders.

 “Our lands are rich. And we are afraid that if our rights to our lands are not recognized within the BBL, then we will lose our hold over our lands, which is our life, our inheritance, and our future,” she said.

 

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