To have IP rights in the BBL means inclusive peace, say Lumads
“To include non-Moro indigenous peoples rights in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) means inclusive peace, and a more lasting one,” says Titay Bleyen Santos Unsad, a Teduray leader from Upi, Maguindanao.
“Peace in Mindanao is a common aspiration of the Moro people and the non-Moro IPs. We have supported the struggle of our Muslim brothers and sisters for peace and development within our region. Their peace, is our peace. And that is why the BBL, to be truly a peace instrument, should also recognize the rights of the Teduray, Lambangian and other non-Moro indigenous peoples in Maguindanao,” adds Titay Bleyen Santos.
Titay Bleyen Santos Unsad is one of the 350 IP leaders who have been part of the Mindanao IP Legislative Assembly or MIPLA, which was convened by the Office of the Presidential Adviser to the Peace Process (OPAPP) last year. The MIPLA was mandated to draft specific proposed revisions to the BBL which would contain the IP agenda. The Assembly worked for 3 months, and came up with proposed revisions.
“We drafted proposed revisions to enhance the BBL, recognizing our rights to our ancestral domains, and our distinct identity as non-Moro IP rights. These were presented to the Congress,” according to Titay Bleyen Santos. “But now, all of these seem to be set aside in favor of the version from the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which prescribes that all peoples within the proposed Bangsamoro territory are all Bangsamoro. But we are not. We are Teduray, with our own ancestral domain, justice system, and governance. We are non-Moro indigenous peoples.”
The Congress plans to pass the proposed BBL before it adjourns on June 1, upon the urging of President Rodrigo Duterte. At the House of Representatives, the House Committees on Local Government, Muslim Affairs, and Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity approved House Bill No. 6475 or the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) without amendments last week. This did not sit well among some members of the House, who said that all the consultations and public hearings were rendered useless, as no revisions were entertained. The HB 6475 is the version submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). The same can be said with the Senate, when Senator Miguel Zubiri decided to author instead the BTC version. The interpellation of SB 1717, or the proposed BBL, is ongoing at the Senate.
“It’s true, that the BBL is long overdue. We have been part of the struggle, too. We have been attending congressional hearings, dialogues, public forums, to express our support to BBL, but also to say that an inclusive BBL is the only way to go to have an inclusive peace,” says Fintailan Leonora Mokudef. Fintailan is a title for a Teduray woman leader. “Indigenous Peoples in ARMM did not enjoy the rights provided by the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA). Recognition of our rights is also long overdue.”
The government of Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) did not recognize IPRA, a national law, as applicable within its territory. Its applicability over the Bangsamoro Territory is one of the critical revisions that the IP leaders are pushing for. The IP leaders went to the Senate today to have dialogues with the Senators and to observe the plenary discussions of SB 1717, or the Senate version of the proposed BBL.
“The halls of the Senate are familiar now to us. We have been here before, during the Aquino administration lobbying for the inclusion of IP agenda in the BBL. We have allies then who seem to have changed their position,” observes Titay Bleyen Leticio Datuwata, a Lambangian leader, from South Upi, Maguindanao. “We just hope that there will still be a number of members of the Senate who believes in the pursuit of peace, and that peace should be for everyone – even us, non-Moro Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao.”
Titay Bleyen Santos, Fintailan Leonora and Titay Bleyen Leticio are all part of LOYUKAN, a common term among Central Mindanao Lumad to mean comrades. It is a coalition of IP leaders, Indigenous Political Structures, IP rights advocates, human rights organizations, and other members of the social movement who are all pushing for the full inclusion of the IP rights within the BBL.
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