Lumad, Moro leaders to reaffirm kinship; say event helpful to GPH-MILF talks

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MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/06 March) – Lumad and Moro leaders will meet for two days in a Talaandig village in Lantapan town, Bukidnon for the “historic reaffirmation” of kinship between Lumads and the Moro people, Datu Migketay Victorino Saway told reporters here Monday.

Saway said reaffirming such kinship is a step towards the resolution of boundary conflicts among Lumad and Moro communities in Mindanao and will help restore peace in the island.

There are some 30 ethnolinguistic tribes in Mindanao, including those that have embraced Islam.

Saway admitted that after several meetings they were originally aiming for the reaffirmation of the pre-colonial traditional peace pacts.

He noted however that this would require the settlement of boundary conflicts, which can only be done after the reaffirmation of kinship, the ceremony for which is scheduled on March 7 to 8 in Barangay Songco, Lantapan.

He said the peace process between the government and the MILF can benefit from the reaffirmation of kinship and traditional peace pacts at the ground level. “Maybe the negotiations on the ground can help awaken those above.”

“The traditional peace pacts can move from the unwritten to the written. The understanding between the Lumads and the Moros will have a big bearing on the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front,” Saway, a leader of Panagtagbo Mindanao, a coalition of people’s organizations, said.

He said the MILF leadership gave their nod to the initiative but opted not to place themselves in the forefront.

He said the Moro representation in the event includes not only the MILF but also those from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), academe, business and other sectors.

Among the highlights of the event are a ritual, testimonies on kinship by the peace pact holders of the Lumad and Moro peoples, and an exchange of sug-ut or tokens.

He added they may sign an agreement on their kinship based on the general principles of kilalaha (mutual recognition and respect), sayuda (sharing of information and transparency), buliga (cooperation), uyada (mutual protection), and pabaton-batona (helping somebody who is down).

“These are simple principles we hope we could translate to all people in their dialects,” he added.

Saway said they will unveil a marker symbolizing the reaffirmation of kinship of the two groups of people.

He said that aside from the traditional peace pact holders and traditional leaders from of the Moro and Lumad groups they have also invited representatives from the peace panels of the government and the MILF, International Monitoring Team, International Contact Group, diplomatic community, UN agencies, key government officials, political leaders and civil society.

The Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC) and Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, he said, have supported their initiative.

In a press statement, the MPC said the ritual aims to awaken the kinship relations among the early inhabitants in Mindanao that had produced traditional peace pacts, including the Tampuda hu Balagen, Diyandi, Pakang, and Sapa.

“These peace pacts are relevant to the ongoing negotiation between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” the group said. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)

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