Lumads to form body to deal with peace panels

SONGCO, Lantapan, Bukidnon (MindaNews/02 August) — Some 90 Lumad leaders from various parts of Mindanao and Luzon capped their gathering here last week with an agreement to form a body that will push for the inclusion of indigenous peoples’ issues in peace talks with rebel groups.

They said they will inform President Benigno Aquino III of the creation of such body to ensure that they would be spared from violations arising from conflict situations and their ancestral domain rights would be respected in relation to talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The issues raised with regard to the peace processes were part of the 10-point agenda the Lumad leaders crafted here during workshops and which was offered to their departed ancestors in a ritual.

Aside from the peace processes, the agenda touched on human rights and militarization, “development aggression”, rights of women and children, self-governance, basic services, advocacy for self-determination, the need to fully enforce the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act, and climate change.

They said that while several issues and concerns were identified under each item of the agenda they would prioritize those that can be attained within the year.

The Lumad leaders gathered at the Talaandig tribal hall here for the State of the Indigenous Peoples Address, which started on July 26, the same day Aquino delivered his first State of the Nation Address. (Violeta M. Gloria/MindaNews)