Framework agreement good for indigenous peoples, too – Bukidnon lumads

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 15 Oct) – The indigenous peoples of Mindanao welcomed the signing of the Framework Agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Datu Migketay Victorino Saway of the Talaandig tribe told MindaNews Monday said the IPs also benefit from the agreement.

“This is positive development for us. It has expanded the vision of lasting peace in Mindanao,” Saway, who belong to the Mindanao People’s Caucus that include people’s organizations from Lumad and Moro tribes, said via telephone from Malacañang.

Provincial board member Manuel Dinlayan, from the Bukidnon tribe who chairs the IP committee at the provincial board, also welcomed the signing of the Framework Agreement in his opening remarks at the opening of Bukidnon’s first-ever IP congress today.

Saway, one of the members of the council of elders of tribes from Mindanao who witnessed the signing in Malacañang, said they no longer pursue their assertion for representatives from the indigenous peoples in the panels of the peace process.

With the long years of hard work of the panels, he said, they decided not to battle for IP representation anymore. “It makes the talks more complicated,” he added.

Saway said all stakeholders know that the role of the IP communities couldn’t be discounted in the ongoing peace process. “That’s why we saw it ahead to put up a mechanism to avoid the worst from happening,” he said.

He cited the reaffirmation of kinship between the Moro and the indigenous peoples in Mindanao held earlier this year.

On March 8, 2012, representatives from eight Moro tribes and most of the Lumad or non-Islamized tribes in Mindanao signed a five-point kinship covenant in a gathering in Songco in the municipality of Lantapan, Bukidnon.

The gathering was filled with festive remembrance of historical relationships and aspirations for peace and unity in the island.

Saway said that in the reaffirmation, Moro and IP leaders refreshed the kinship and vowed to respect traditional agreements between their leaders in the past.

Saway said without the mechanism, which promoted mutual recognition and respect, the IPs would be caught in the crossfire or will be left out.

Aside from signing the covenant, the participants also unveiled the monument marking the reaffirmation of their kinship, an event witnessed among others by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panel and the International Monitoring Team.

The covenant, printed on white paper and etched in a plaque installed on the monument, highlighted mutual recognition and respect (kilalaha), mutual sharing of information (sayuda), cooperation (buliga), mutual protection and preservation of life (uyaga), and mutual obligation to help the needy (pagbatunbatuna).

Before signing the covenant Lumad and Moro leaders exchanged accounts of shared history passed on for generations, mostly recalling a past that belonged to “one blood.” Their accounts differed in some respects but all of them cited peace pacts. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)