MALALAG, Davao del Sur (MindaNews/1 July) — As President Benigno S. Aquino III conveyed his plans and promises to the Filipino people during his inaugural speech at Quirino Grandstand Wednesday, a tribal chieftain here urged the newly installed leader of the country to look into the welfare of the Lumads of Mindanao, especially their youth, by providing a scholarship program.
“You can count on your finger the number of professionals from the indigenous peoples,” Bae Lolita Tenorio, tribal chieftain of this town, said. She hopes that the new administration will sponsor a scholarship program for the Lumads “since most of us cannot afford the high cost of college education.”
She pointed out that like the settlers of Mindanao, “we also want our youth to get better jobs.”
Tenorio is optimistic that Aquino’s presidency is the answer to their hopes that more Lumad youth will finish tertiary education.
She further urged the new administration to consider exempting the IPs from taking the civil service examinations to qualify for employment in the government.
“We are just a minority in the country, so why not give us special privileges,” Tenorio asked. “We could hardly compete with other major tribes in examinations,” she reasoned out.
The tribal leader also claims that they are deprived of their rights to acquire lands which they consider as their ancestral domain under Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997.
“Even in the Department of Agrarian Reform, they prioritize giving lands to their friends and those who are close to them,” she further lamented.
Tenorio also called on the local government units to appoint Lumads in the local legislative body as sectoral representatives who can “bring their voices,” thus enabling them to participate in local governance.
She lauded former Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who appointed Moro and Lumad deputy mayors that catered to the needs of the Moro and IPs in his town. (Gandhi C. Kinjiyo / MindaNews)