Lumad member of MILF peace panel appeals to other Lumads

“We are appealing unto them to support the peace process. The IP’s support is equally crucial for the success in the ongoing negotiations,” said Datu Antonio Kinoc, a member of the MILF peace panel’s Technical Working Group.

“We particularly appeal to them to participate in the process and know more of the details going on in the negotiations,” he told MindaNews at the sidelines of the Peace Advocacy Forum held here over the weekend.

The forum, hosted by the Bangsamoro Solidarity Alliance (BMSA), is part of the MILF’s  advocacy campaign to inform Mindanao populace of the status and other details of the talks. Similar meetings have been conducted in other cities and provinces in Mindanao.

Datu Kinoc, who talked on the “Role of Indigenous People in the Peace Process,” said the IPs should know better where they stand and where they position themselves in the ongoing talks.

“They (IP communities) object because they are not fully aware of the benefits they will get from the future agreement,” he said, referring to IP’s objections to Bangsamoro ancestral domain, one of the major talking points in the peace talks which define the territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro people under the proposed Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE).

“They should erase those reservations because it doesn’t mean when we are part of BJE, we will be Islamized or MILF will govern us over our land,” he said, adding that “under BJE, all Bangsamoro people have their complete autonomy over their own land and properties.”

“Bangsamoro doesn’t refer to only Muslims but also to non-Muslims living in Mindanao including Christians and IPs,” he clarified. “I belong to B’laan tribe and I am a proud Bangsamoro,” he said.

The Subanon, a major IP tribe in Zamboanga Peninsula has been very vocal in their objections to the BJE, which they claim will only incorporate their lands to Bangsamoro territory.

“Since time immemorial, Zamboanga Peninsula belongs to the Subanon people and it’s no way that any group will get it from us,” said the group tribal council chieftain Timuay Noval Lambo.
“Respect the ethnic and historical rights of the Subanons on all lands in Zamboanga Peninsula and to, therefore, exclude our (Subanons) communities from inclusion as ancestral lands to be placed under or included in the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity as contemplated in the propose peace agreement,” said a position letter recently released by the group, signed by some 35 tribal and religious leaders all over Zamboanga Peninsula.

Datu Kinoc said he is still optimistic the Subanon group and other IP communities in Mindanao will support the process.

“We are not fighting for MILF here but for Mindanao and Mindanao people and only through united Mindanao – Muslims, Christians, and IPs –  that we can win this noble cause,” he told some 500 participants at the Octagon Hall of  the Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology.

“We cannot expect Manila to fight for us but rather our fellow Mindanaons, and MILF are from Mindanao,” Datu Kinoc said.

Other speakers during the forum are Zamboanga City Mayor Celso L. Lobregat, represented by City Hall executive assistant Amilpasa Bandaying, and Atty. Moh. Mujib Buat and Hji. Abdullah U. Camlian of the MILF peace panel. (Nung Aljani/ MindaNews)

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