34-member panel of Lumad elders, leaders to meet with BTC  on BBL provisions

DAVAO CITY – A 34-member panel comprising Lumad (Indigenous Peoples) elders and leaders will engage the 20-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in a roundtable discussion in relation to the 36 provisions of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that may “adversely impact our rights and way of life.”

Lawyer Reuben Lingating, chair of the five-member Indigenous Peoples (IP) panel recently created by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said on Sunday that the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Legislative Assembly-BBL (MIPLA-BBL) Panel of Representatives is composed of 34 elders and leaders from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Zamboanga Peninsula and Caraga whose ancestral domains cover some parts of the territory of the ARMM.

The ARMM, which is the proposed core territory of the Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity that would replace the ARMM, comprises the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan.

It is not clear how many among the 34-member panel of representatives come from the proposed core territory of the Bangsamoro.

But the BTC, the body tasked to draft the BBL, has two Lumad representatives from the proposed core territory of the Bangsamoro, one nominated by the government and the other nominated by the MILF.

The BTC is supposed to be a 21-member Commission but one Commissioner, Samira Gutoc Tomawis, resigned in the early days of the Marawi Crisis citing personal reasons and policy questions.

Lingating said the meeting between BTC and MIPLA-BBL panel will happen in two weeks after it was moved from September 1, the closing of the three-day MIPLA at the Mergrande Ocean Resort in Talomo, as it was a nationwide holiday in observance of the Eid’l Adha (Islamic Feast of Sacrifice).

He said members of the MIPLA-BBL Panel of Representatives will meet again to consolidate the output of the seven group sessions during the legislative assembly after the roundtable peace conversation with the BTC members.

He said the BTC and MILPA-BBL panel representatives will “engage separately or jointly the Congress.”

The BTC submitted the draft of the new BBL to President Rodrigo Duterte on July 17. It was transmitted to the two houses of Congress in mid-August but has yet to be filed as a bill in either house.

The BBL is not on the list of 28 priority bills agreed upon by the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council.

Lingating said the OPAPP  “provided for a new peace table to serve as a platform of peace conversation between them so just to exhaust all remedies available to them as diverse peoples, with distinct identities, culture, history, and political conceptualizations in dealing with their aspiration to be united as Bangsamoro peoples following the Administration’s policy of inclusivity in the peace process.”

He said they have submitted to IP Committee representatives in Congress the result of their “sharing, discourse and proposals concerning 36 provisions in the BBL that may adversely impact their rights and way of life.”

He said Sen. Nancy Binay, chair of the Senate Committee for Cultural Communities, who sent her representative Joseph Ginni T. Jaralve, and North Cotabato’s second district Representative Nancy Catamco, Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples, “expressed their commitment to consider it.” (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)