Yesterday, staff from Focus on the Global South Philippines joined indigenous leaders from Mindanao in their ritual-action in front of Congress, praying for the full inclusion of their rights in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, the deliberations on which resumes today in Congress.

Below is the press release from the event.

(photo by Joseph Purugganan)

Press Release

MAY 10, 2015


Quezon City – “Things are not black nor white. One cannot simply be pro-BBL or anti-BBL. Issues in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) are far more complex to be taken like this,” said Timuay Alim Bandara, a Teduray leader. 

According to Timuay Bandara, there are a lot of serious issues and concerns raised by the indigenous peoples in Mindanao on the content of the BBL, particularly their identity and territory as non-Moro Indigenous Peoples. “We have consistently and persistently articulated these, to the Peace Panel then, and now in the Congress. The panel has failed us. Now, we hope the Congress will be enlightened to hear our voices, and pass a BBL that is truly inclusive, and just. We call for the full recognition and articulation of the indigenous peoples’ rights in the BBL.”

Timuay Bandara is one of the leaders who participated in a ritual to seek enlightenment for Congress as it resumes its deliberation on the proposed BBL. Tulak Bungkas Itungan, a ritual for enlightenment, was performed in front of the Batasang Pambansa by indigenous women and men, with Teduray flags, gongs, and chants. This was done a day before Congress deliberations resume on Monday.

“Dapat pantay na pagbalangkas  ng batas, hindi maging tagapag-api ng mamayang minorya,” (“What should be drafted and passed is a fair and just law; not a law that would discriminate against the minority population.”) said Abay Rendaw Mosela, a Teduray Kemamal Keadan or Supreme Spiritual Leader who led the ritual. “We hope that the spirits will open and bless the minds and hearts of the members of the Congress as they deliberate the draft BBL.” Mosela added.

The indigenous peoples (IPs) are pushing that their identity as non-Moro indigenous peoples be recognized in the BBL. Non-Moro IPs are IPs who have not collectively (as a tribe) nor individually ascribed themselves as Bangsamoro.   They assert that the unique identity of non-Moro IPs and all their rights arising from such identity should be respected at all times and under all conditions by the Bangsamoro Government, and this should be clearly articulated in the proposed BBL.

“Ang Batas ay para sa lahat hindi sa iilan lamang, at wala itong pinipili  mahirap man oh mayaman, pantay na pagtingin sa karapatan ng tao  para sa tutuong Kapayapaan,” said Jennevive Cornelio. (“The law is for everyone, and not just for some, and that it does not choose to work for the poor, or the rich alone; there should be an equal treatment of the rights of the people. Then there can be peace.”)  Cornelio is one of the Teduray women leaders who played the gong during the ritual.

The ritual was attended and supported by IP rights and human rights advocates including Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MMPM), Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC), LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights), Focus on the Global South, Stop the War Coalition-Phils., Tebtebba Foundation, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), and Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples (ECIP).

Contact information

Timuay Alim Bandara                                                 Datu Roldan Babelo

Timuay Justice and Governance                         Gempa te Kelindaan ne Kamal

09308082422                                                                 09159052198