COTABATO CITY – Two indigenous tribes raised their concern over their ancestral domain and equality status in the Bangsamoro region as lawmakers start the ball rolling to make the Proposed Regional Law for Indigenous Peoples (IPs).
The Higaonon tribe of Wao, Lanao Del Sur, and the Erumanen Ne Menuvu of Carmen, Cotabato Province attended the community consultations last August 18 and 19.
The Mindanao Peoples Caucus, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration and the legal team of the Office of Member of Parliament, Atty. Mary Ann M. Arnado, said the participating tribes “engaged in the workshop and close group meeting in threshing out crucial issues and concerns and what measures or provisions should be included in the law to improve their living conditions, safeguard their rights as IPs, and protect their ancestral domain from further encroachment”.
Several notable themes came out from the initial consultations, mainly: legal measures to officially recognize and protect the rights of the IPs, among which is their rightful claim on ancestral domain; importance of using the Indigenous Political Structure (IPS) as the mechanism in allmatters concerning the tribes (e.g., management of ancestral domain and natural resources, dispute settlement, and engagement with mainstream government institutions);
That the IP Law must become a legislative tool that will heal past wounds and guarantee asustainable future for IP communities; and the use of the Non-Moro Indigenous Peoples (NMIPs) and IPs.
“Intending to generate inputs from the IP communities in the BARMM region on the nature and scope of the regional law, the dialogue hoped to forge understanding and consensus on IP issues, concerns, welfare, and development programs. The goal is to protect and promote the rights and welfare of the IPs on the legislative agenda of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM),” the office of MP Arnado said.
Datu Sakar Salepada, Imam and seventh generation of Sultan Mamako Salepada, said, “Theinterpretation of IP is very attached to clothes and religion. These conditions should not matter because the basis for being an IP should be in the bloodline. The Bangsamoro TransitionAuthority (BTA) should look into this.”
The Secretary General of the Erumanen ne Manuvu IPS (Indigenous Political System), Temuey Jojo Ambangan, said, “This community consultation is an opportunity to heal, but until when?”.
The Office of MP Arnado said the community consultations were part of the activities to be conducted by the Mindanao Peoples Caucus in its effort to move forward the IP agenda in crafting this foundational law. The BTA Members of the Parliament (MP) were determined to pass the regional IP law this year before the end of the second regular session.