COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Indigenous peoples (IP) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are assured that the proposed entity that would replace the said region will continue to recognize laws that protect the non-Islamized tribes, a leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said.
“If you look at the current BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law), all the best provisions of IPRA (Indigenous Peoples Rights Act) are already in the the current BBL, plus, plus,” said Mohagher Iqbal, MILF peace implementing panel chair.
Mohagher Iqbal made this comment Sunday, November 26, when asked whether the group has been aware of the concerns raised by the Lumad in September. (READ: Why the Lumad are asking for another version of BBL)
In that month, hundreds of IP leaders in the ARMM gathered in Davao city and raised their main concern towards the BBL: that it failed to mention critical elements that protect the non-Islamized indigenous tribes within the proposed Bangsamoro entity.
Four bundles of rights of the Lumad, they said, were not mentioned in the BBL. These include their rights on ancestral domain, governance, economy, and justice system. All of which part of the IPRA which was enacted in 1997.
But Iqbal explained that being a national law, BBL does not need to mention the provisions already covered by the said law as it defeats the purpose of the Bangsamoro entity.
“BBL is practically a local law, a law of local application,” said Iqbal.
Thus, he said, if mentioned anew in the BBL, “you are destroying the principle of autonomy.”
The Lumad in the ARMM have claims within the proposed Bangsamoro entity, one of them being the batew or the sacred stone of the Tedurays near the MILF’s Camp Omar in Maguindanao.
In September, North Cotabato 2nd District Representative Nancy Catamco advised the Lumad leaders that as the BBL remains a “draft” in Congress, there still is time for them to push for a revision. – Rappler.com