By Jules L. Benitez
COTABATO CITY (CCJD/MindaNews) — Faced with the challenges of self-governance within the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the Minted sa Inged, the Teduray and Lambangian highest governing council, called for a Timfada Limud (tribal congress) on October 2 to 4 in Upi Maguindanao.
The Timfada Limud is set to strengthen the governance structure of the Teduray and Lambangian indigenous peoples (IPs) within their ancestral domain covering some 120 funuo (villages) across 84 barangays in the municipalities of North and South Upi and neighboring areas, and to elect new set of council members.
“We need to organize and strengthen the governing structures of the Teduray and Lambangian if we are to succeed in claiming governance and control of our ancestral domain,” said Alim Bandara,52, the Timuay Labi (Chief Councilor) of the Teduray.
Bandara said the Teduray and Lambangian are living in an “oppressive situation under the ARMM” where the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) is not implemented or recognized.
The IPRA recognizes the rights of the indigenous people over their ancestral domain and provides for mechanism and process where this domain can be delineated and turned over to them for their governance, control and development.
The Teduray and Lambangian, and along with the Dulangan Manobo people, had laid claim to their ancestral domains covering an initial land area of 289,268 hectares comprising the municipalities of Upi, South Upi, Ampatuan, Shariff Aguak, Datu Unsay, Datu Saudi, Guindulungan, Talayan and DOS in Maguindanao Province and portions of Esperanza, Lebak, Bagumbayan, Sen. Ninoy Aquino, Kalamansig and Palembang in Sultan Kudarat Province and the city of Cotabato where the tribes are predominantly situated.
However, 14 years after the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) signed a peace accord with the Philippine Government and took over the reign of control over the
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the autonomous government has yet to pass a law recognizing the rights of the lumads in the region to their ancestral domains.
Already, since 2002 the Tedurays and Lambangian have been struggling against the incursion and logging operations in their ancestral domain by Pinansaran Logging Concession Inc. (PLCI) which was granted logging concessions under the Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) covering some 5,000 hectares of forests within their ancestral domain.
The logging had caused havoc in our way of life,” the Timuay Labi said. He added that the logging operations had disrupted their local economic system, their spiritual practices and the security of the Teduray in the area.
The Timfada Limid is organized around the theme, “Palakasin at isulong ang Tribal Sel-governance tungo sa sariling pagpapasya ng Teduray/Lambangian para sa tunay at pangmatagalang kapayapaan sa Mindanao” (Strengthen and uphold the tribal self-governance towards self-determination of the Teduray and Lambangian for genuine and sustainable peace in Mindanao.).
Some 600 Teduray and Lambangian leaders and representatives are expected to participate in the congress. (Jules L. Benitez, CCJD/MindaNews)