MANILA, June 23 (Mabuhay) − Indigenous groups in Mindanao should have as much as say in crafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law to ensure that their rights are protected when the new Bangsamoro entity is created, a lawmaker said Monday.
“I feel it would be a historical aberration if the lumads’ rights will be sidetracked for the sake of a peaceful settlement with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and our government,” Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat said.
He added that “There can be no genuine peace if the rights of the first people are not adequately addressed.”
Baguilat, vice chairman of the committee on national cultural communities in the House of Representatives, is set to meet with indigenous peoples (IP) groups in Mindanao to get their views on the proposed law, which is being fast-tracked for submission to Congress and for approval by the end of the year.
North Cotabato Representative Nancy Catamco, chairperson of the committee, will also be conducting dialogues in Maguindanao, Davao, and in her province.
The ratified basic law will replace Republic Act 9054 or the law creating the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Baguilat said that he received word from the IP leaders that they support the peace process in Mindanao and creation of the new region, but that they are concerned that their rights would be trampled on.
“IP leaders are wary of the possibility that their rights as the first people of Mindanao might be forsaken in favor of other groups,” he added.
The Ifugao lawmakers urged the government negotiators to widen the scope of consultations so that the discussions would not be limited to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the national government.
“I am committed to work for the passage of the Bangsamoro law as soon as Congress resumes its sessions and I will try and make sure that the law will not trample on the mandates of other laws protecting the indigenous peoples such as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act,” he said.
“The Bangsamoro law must be just and historically correct and should recognize the IPs’ rights to their ancestral lands and their right to self-determination as enshrined in the IPRA and United Nations conventions,” he added. (MNS)