[NEWS] Indigenous peoples to gov’t: Don’t include us in Bangsamoro homeland

(What went wrong with the distribution of ancestral domain titles? Is the issue only about ancestral domain distribution? Why did the IP groups raise this only now? These questions remained unanswered.But hail to the IP communities for coming up with a “unified position” on this.I hope this move will not be a divisive act that could deter peace in Mindanao.)

DAVAO CITY (Courtesy of MindaNews/30 July) – The government should grant indigenous
peoples their ancestral domains instead of including them in the
Bangsamoro homeland, Datu Migketay Saway, secretary general of Panagtagbo Mindanao told MindaNews Sunday.

“We also want peace in Mindanao, but the government, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and third parties to the Mindanao peace process should be reminded that respective homelands have already been identified before by traditional peace agreements between Moro and non-Moro indigenous peoples in Mindanao,” Saway said

“There is a need for the parties talking about ancestral domain in the GRP–MILF peace process to go back and respect those agreements,” he said.

He said they are confident that the Bangsamoro and the non-Moro indigenous peoples in Mindanao can live together peacefully once they reaffirm past agreements on territories.

Panagtagbo convened the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples’ Summit in Sungko, Lantapan, Bukidnon on July 22-24, during which the lumad came up with a position paper opposing the inclusion of their territories in the Bangsamoro homeland.

Saway said the position paper, signed by 107 leaders of indigenous peoples, serves as a “reminder” to the parties of their “unified position” so that they could consider it in the final peace agreement.

Datu Al Saliling, the lumad’s representative to the government panel’s technical working group, said in an interview by MindaNews Saturday that the signatories represented 18 tribes and eight sub-tribes in Mindanao.

The position paper asked the parties in the peace talks to give attention and consider their “unified position” in order to truly achieve lasting peace and development in the island of Mindanao.

Saway said Mindanao’s indigenous peoples issued a similar position paper in 2004 but that it was not given enough attention.

He urged the government to focus on fully implementing the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997 by granting them their ancestral domains.

Saway, however, said that the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples requires ancestral domain claimants to submit to a “burdensome” process which has crippled their claims.

Among the requirements are perimeter survey, documentation of genealogy and history, and gathering and validation of anthropological data.

“It has become too costly for us. It will take us beyond life to accomplish this,” Saway said.

He also asked the government to look into the plight of the indigenous peoples who do not even get a share of the wealth from the use of resources within their ancestral lands. (Walter I. Balane/ MindaNews)

About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

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