Catamco pushes for ‘peace zones’ in ‘lumad’ areas
KIDAPAWAN CITY – North Cotabato Representative Nancy Catamco said the creation of zones of peace in lumad areas, as suggested by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, was among ideal solutions to problems besetting indigenous communities.
Catamco, chair of the House committee on the indigenous peoples, said it was similar to her call to the military and the communist rebels to leave lumad communities and let them solve disputes among themselves, using their custom and tradition.
“I support Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle’s call for both the military forces and the (National Democratic Front) to respect the ancestral domain communities of indigenous peoples as Zones of Peace,” she said even as she reiterated her call to President Aquino to act on her earlier request for the inclusion of the full protection and recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights in the National Policy Agenda as urgent.
Catamco said the establishment of the zones of peace will guarantee that lumad communities will be freed from outside influence, either by the Armed Forces or communists.
She also said there was an imperative need to create a Special Task Force to consolidate, fast track, and use various capacities of concerned government agencies to address the emergency situation affecting the IPs of Mindanao.
She said the task force could also formulate mechanisms that will institutionalize the promotion and protection of the rights and well-being of the indigenous communities.
“I am aware that the authority of the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples was merely facilitative and coordinative, the mechanism for the performance of that role has not been clearly established and institutionalized in the different service agencies of the government,” Catamco said. CDG
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