Author/s: Joseph Purugganan
(May 23, 2018/Manila) – “Identity, ancestral domain, protection of their rights as non-Moro Indigenous Peoples – these are the issues that I have heard from our Lumad leaders, and I will bring these to the plenary debates on the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law),” says Senator Joel Villanueva.
Indigenous leaders from Teduray, Lambangian and Erumanen ne Menuvu communities met with Senator Villanueva, Tuesday, to bring their concerns on SB 1717–the proposed BBL from the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC)– sponsored by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri. These indigenous communities come from the core and adjoining areas of the proposed Bangsamoro territory. One of the key issues is the recognition of their rights as articulated in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).
“Is the definition of the Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC) as provided for in the proposed BBL, the same as that in IPRA?”, asked Senator Villanueva during his interpellation of the proposed BBL. Senator Zubiri responded, “Yes”, to which Senator Villanueva said, “I appreciate that response from the sponsor himself, guaranteeing the rights of the Indigenous Peoples in this measure.”
“This is something very promising,” Fintailan Leonora Mokudef Teduray woman leader said. “One of our proposed revisions is the recognition of rights of IPs over natural resources. Exploration, development and utilization of natural resources within ancestral domains should be subject to FPIC.”
According to Timuay Santos Unsad, a Teduray leader, “We have been pushing for a BBL that does not diminish our rights as already provided for in IPRA.” IPRA, a national law, has not been recognized and implemented in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) since its passage in 1997. “This is now the opportunity for us to be fully included in the peace process. If our rights already recognized in the IPRA will be fully included in the proposed measure, we highly appreciate this, as this will make this process genuinely inclusive and responsive not only to the Bangsamoro people’s aspiration for just and lasting peace but also to us IPs who have been marginalized,” Timuay Unsad continued.
“In the repealing clause of the proposed BBL, we are proposing that it be amended to say ‘Provided that such laws, decrees, orders, rules and regulations, and other issuances and parts thereof, shall not be inconsistent with the Constitution, and shall not fall below the minimum standards contained in national laws and relevant international instruments.’”
Timuay Unsad, played a critical role in the government-convened Mindanao IP Legislative Assembly (MIPLA) being a Majority Floor Leader of the MIPLA 34-member Panel of Representatives, which consolidated IP recommended revisions to the BBL. These recommendations were endorsed and submitted by the NCIP to both Houses of the Congress.
Senator Ralph Recto, which received the MIPLA proposals told Timuay Unsad and the group, committed to “push for the MIPLA revisions 100%.”
The IP leaders also met with Senators Nancy Binay, Bam Aquino, Risa Hontiveros, and the offices of Senator Loren Legarda, Jv Ejercito, Antonio Trillanes and Franklin Drilon. They are scheduled to meet with Senator Leila de Lima.
“We have left our communities again to be here and meet with the members of Congress. There have been promises and commitment of support to our cause. We hope that this time, these promises will be translated to actual amendments, and will be incorporated in the bill and an inclusive BBL will finally be passed,” says Timuay Leticio Datuwata, a Lambangian leader.
The IP leaders are part of LOYUKAN (IPs in Central Mindanao term to mean comrade) which is composed of different Indigenous Political Structures, and IP rights advocates pushing for the full inclusion of IP rights within the BBL.