Indigenous tribes want ancestral lands excluded from Bangsamoro autonomy
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Leaders of indigenous tribes within the proposed Bangsamoro territory have demanded that their ancestral lands be excluded, saying that if Philippine government refuses to exclude them from the draft law on Bangsamoro autonomy, it would violate their inherent and inalienable right to self-determination.
“We cannot accept Bangsamoro as our identity. We have our own identity and this is the Erumanen ne Menuvu,” Erumanen Datu Ronaldo Ambangan said as he read the declaration of the Erumanen ne Menuvu tribe during the June 24 congressional consultations on the proposed Bangsamoro in Midsayap, North Cotabato.
In Davao City, Timuay Alim Bandara, a Teduray leader, told the June 26 congressional committee hearing that peace should be given a chance, not only for the Bangsamoro but also for all affected communities in Mindanao.
“I especially mention here other affected communities and societies because it is not only the Bangsamoro community and society that has been affected by all the wars and armed encounters, by injustices and conflicts in this region,” Bandara said. “I am referring to the community and society of indigenous peoples specifically the Teduray, Lambangian and Dulangan Manobo in portions of Maguindanao in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where the IPRA (Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act) provisions are not implemented in the past 17 years simply because we are inside an autonomous region that is the product of the peace process.”
He said the non-Moro indigenous peoples in the area covered by the peace agreement with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) were not only victims of war but also victims of peace because the IPRA, which should have been enjoyed by IP tribes in the last 17 years, were not implemented.
“This is why, since the signing of the FAB (Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro) in 2012, we indigenous peoples in the area have been coming out of the peace zone to say in public and in small forums our discomfort on the previous peace agreement,” he added.
Ambangan said the Erumanens have defined ancestral territories in Central Mindanao. These are undergoing delineation and titling processes in line with the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), according to Ambangan. The Erumanen declaration asked national cultural communities of the House of Representatives conducting the hearing “to exclude our ancestral territories from the proposed Bangsamoro government as it will damage our inherent and inalienable right to self-determination.”
Signed by Erumanen Datu Al Saliling, Datu Roldan Babelon, and Datu Ronaldo Ambangan, all members of the Council of Leaders of the
Erumanen ne Menuvu, the declaration also claimed that Erumanens have been exercising their own governance system called Gempa te Kelindaan
ne Kamal for many years and cited the peace covenants forged between and among the Bangsamoro and the Erumanen ne Menuvu in the past which, though constantly violated, governed their peaceful co-existence with the Bangsamoro tribes.
Erumanen leaders called on Congress to craft a resolution directing the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to fast-tract the delineation and titling of ancestral domain of the Erumanen ne Menuvu and other non-Moro indigenous peoples in the adjacent areas of the proposed Bangsamoro territories; ensuring enough budget for the process; and to respect the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of the Erumanen ne Menuvu in cases of expansion of Bangsamoro territories.
They also asked the NCIP to finally issue a title, not just a resolution of granting the title to the Erumanen ne Menuvu claimants particularly the ancestral domain claim in Aroman and neighbouring barangays; Renibon in Pigcawayan town, and Libungan, Aleosan, Midsayap and Pikit Unified Ancestral Domain Claim, all in the province of Cotabato.
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