As the window for the passage of a bill seeking to extend the transition phase in the Bangsamoro region slowly tightens, Indigenous Peoples have added their collective voice to the call.
Here’s their statement in full:
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES IN THE BARMM SUPPORT THE CALL FOR PRESIDENT DUTERTE TO CERTIFY THE EXTENSION BILL AS URGENT
On the occasion of the final State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, we, representing the Teduray, Lambangian, Dulangan Manobo, Arumanen Manobo, Higaonon, Samah Badjaw, and other indigenous peoples situated in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, strongly support the call for the passage of the bill extending the transition period for another 3 years up to 2025.
Under RA 11054, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) is tasked to enact 7 priority Codes including the Indigenous Peoples Code which is aimed at promoting the rights and welfare of the indigenous communities and protecting and recognizing their historical rights to their ancestral domain or Fusaka Inged. The process of IP Code drafting, consultations and consensus-building among the various tribes is still ongoing at various levels. The much required information drive to directly inform traditional leaders, cultural keepers, healers, tribal chieftains and the larger cultural communities, constituting the Indigenous Political structures is sine qua non to secure the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) in the enactment (of) the IP Code. These legal and cultural processes are hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic which limit the movement of peoples within and among the various communities, thus, causing delay in the enactment of the IP Code.
If the transition period will not be extended, the Indigenous Peoples fear that the desired institutional reforms, particularly the protection and preservation of the Fusaka Inged and the entrenchment of the Tribal Justice System will be relegated and forgotten like what previously happened in the defunct ARMM.
We also would like to correct the false apprehension on alleged killings and displacement of Tedurays in South Upi. While we appreciate these equally valid concerns, please, let these not be used to justify political opposition for extension. We look at the extension as a collective effort to protect the gains of the peace process where all stakeholders have heavily contributed one way or the other.
We commend the leadership of the BARMM for giving the two IP representatives in the BTA, namely, Members of Parliament Timuay Melanio Ulama and Romy Saliga, the direct authority to lead the process of drafting the IP Code. This only shows the high level of respect afforded on the right to self determination of the Indigenous Peoples within the autonomous region. We also acknowledge the significant increase in the annual budget allocated for the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples and the approval of the Education Code that enjoined the establishment of a Tribal University.
In the spirit of kinship and solidarity, we call upon our fellow tribal leaders to unite and support the efforts to implement the social and political reforms that the transition period is tasked to institutionalize. The BARMM is a legacy of the first President from Mindanao who promised to correct the historical injustice committed against the Moro people and all native inhabitants of Mindanao. Let us stay the course and remain focus in pursing the path to peace and moral governance.
PHOEBE GRACE VILLAMOR TIMUAY FELINO V. SAMAR
Provincial Tribal Chieftain Tribal Chieftain
IP Women Representative