Lumads support GRP-MILF peace process but….

Unad told reporters Thursday that despite Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes’ calls at the conference to unify and empower the Lumads (indigenous peoples or IPs), the government still has not approached their allied tribal leaders to consult them about these territories.

Reyes, former Defense Secretary and Environment Secretary spoke at the conference, where organizers claimed around 400 lumad leaders and representatives from the island's 18 major ethnic groups were in attendance.

Unad and his group were earlier organized into “Alsa Lumad” (Lumads Arise), with the support of the military.

He said they are proposing parallel negotiations between Moro and the Lumads in Mindanao on the issue of ancestral domain. Unad said they are eyeing tribe to tribe negotiations between the Moro and the Lumad  to clarify delineation of territories. 

Unad said the Lumads’ stand is for government not to include the Lumads’ claimed ancestral domain, into the future Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE).

The government and MILF peace panels last month broke the 13-month impasse on territory.

 

The impasse ended with a compromise on what areas would comprise the future Bangsamoro Juridical Entity  (BJE) “immediately” and “later,”  MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim told MindaNews in late October.

 

The two panels had earlier agreed that the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) would constitute the core of the future BJE. In addition, the government peace panel proposed the possible inclusion of 613 Moro-dominated villages in Mindanao subject to a plebiscite while the MILF proposed the inclusion of a much wider area.

Murad said the compromise on territory that was reached during the Kuala Lumpur  meeting in October was a formula that would have “ARMM plus contiguous areas” join the BJE “immediately” with the other areas, “not necessarily all contiguous” joining “later.” He declined to elaborate on “later” although this presumably refers to within or after a transition period the panels still have to agree upon.


"Dili lang gyud iapil sa implementation kay lahi baya ang mga kaagi aning mga tribu," (These Lumad ancestral domains should not be included in the implementation because the Lumads have different experiences), Unad said. 

Unad said they do not want to be a stumbling block to the GRP-MILF peace process but maintained government “really has to consult us on this. We really have to intervene for us to see where this is leading.”

The Lumads are represented in both government and MILF peace panels. The five-member government peace panel includes a Higaonon, Sylvia Okinlay-Paraguya. Manobo Datu Al Saliling sits in the technical working group. In the MILF, B’laan Datu Antonio Kinoc is also a member of the technical working group. 

Meanwhile,  lawyer Roque Agton, Southern Mindanao regional director of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), called on the House of Representatives to draft a bill to ensure that a half percent royalty on development projects should go to NCIP to address the problem of lack of money to  help develop their projects in their ancestral domains.

"The problem with tribes is that they do not have funds," he said lamenting the process of the NCIP and the Lumad groups having to ask the national government for funds, only to be turned down.

Agton, who is a Bagobo, said it is also ideal to see a member of the House of Representatives who are are from the indigenous peoples. (See related story)

Unad said Mindanao's indigenous peoples need support not only in political representation but also in economic, education, livelihood opportunities.

"We need support to ensure we could be able to live sustainably," he said.

The conference was convened by MIPCPD in coordination with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the Mindanao Economic Development Council and the Philippine Army. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)

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