Lumad groups air support to GPH-MILF pact

COTABATO CITY(MindaNews/3 February)— Lumads or indigenous peoples (IP) in Mindanao are pinning their hopes to achieve just and lasting peace in Mindanao on the final peace pact between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Bae Magdalena Suhat-Herbilla, chairperson of the Council of Elders of the Federation of Matigsalog-Manobo Tribal Council (Femmatric), which has about 35,000 members living in ancestral domains in North Cotabato and Bukidnon provinces, said they support the GPH-MILF peace process as it would pave the way for peace “to finally reign in Mindanao.”

Both sides recently forged the last Annex on Normalization to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB). The three previously signed annexes are the Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing, and Power Sharing.

The FAB and its annexes shall comprise the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the final peace deal of the GPH and MILF expected to be signed within two months.

“The Lumads don’t want to experience war again and our fervent wish now is for peace to reign in our midst, which we believe can be brought by the GPH-MILF peace agreement, so we can continue leading productive and peaceful lives,” said Herbilla.

In also backing the GPH-MILF talks, Herbilla cited that the rights of the lumads are given protection through Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997.

For his part Habbas Camendan, deputy chair of the Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement based in this city, allayed fears that Lumads will take up arms once the CAB is forged. His group is a grassroots organization consisting of Moros, Christians and Lumads.

“In the first place, indigenous peoples are not as organized and heavily armed like the MILF, so how can they wage a war with the government? There’s no truth to the report that indigenous peoples are ready to take up arms,” he said.

Camendan said that particularly in Maguindanao, a known bailiwick of the MILF, many Tedurays, one of the ethnic tribes in Mindanao, have become Christianized or Islamized, with most of the latter becoming members or supporters of the MILF.

He noted the CAB is inclusive in nature and would not discriminate Christians and Lumads once the Bangsamoro government is created.

Camendan said there is an avenue for those individuals or groups questioning the GPH-MILF peace deal through the ongoing consultations conducted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

Also, the IP community is aptly represented through their three representatives to the 15-man BTC, the body tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the charter that would institutionalize the creation of the Bangsamoro government vice the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“Mas makakabuti kung may tanong linawin at dalhin sa mapayapang paraan dahil open naman ang gobyerno at MILF na pakinggan ang mga ito (It would be better if matters of concern will be brought up using peaceful means because the government and the MILF are open to them),” he stressed.

Camendan also noted that there has been an ongoing kinship reaffirmation process among the Moros and Lumads in support to the GPH-MILF peace talks.

The Moros and Lumads in Mindanao rekindled their kinship in a historic covenant signing in Lantapan, Bukidnon in March 2012.

For the first time in 492 years, 13 Bangsamoro tribes have come together with 18 indigenous tribes to reaffirm their shared ancestry and commit to the 5 pillars of Kinship established in the traditional peace pact of their ancestors: Co-operation, Mutual Sharing of Information, Mutual Protection of Life, Recognition and Respect, and Mutual Obligation to Help the Needy, according to a document from the Mindanao Peoples Caucus.

“The Reaffirmation of Kinship ceremony began a new chapter in Mindanao’s history as the Moro and the IP’s come together to uphold the ancient kinship of their ancestors and acknowledge the traditional peace pacts made long before the colonial era. The ceremony marked a new way forward for sustainable peace in Mindanao – a peace built since time immemorial by a common ancestry – a relationship that today, the tribal leaders have embraced once more,” it added. (MindaNews)

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2014/02/03/lumad-groups-air-support-to-gph-milf-pact/


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