Duterte to create task force to attend to Lumads’ concerns

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 8 March) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte will issue an executive order establishing a task force to address Lumads’ concerns, including the insurgency problem in Mindanao, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza said.

In a statement issued by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) on Wednesday, Dureza said the task force would be headed by retired Col. Allen Capuyan, a Manobo.

The proposal to create the task force came during a recent cabinet meeting in Malacañang wherein the President “emphasized the need for greater convergence among national government line agencies on IP concerns.”

Dureza added that the primary function of the task force is to consolidate all issues concerning Lumad people and identify what necessary development priorities to be undertaken through the existing governance mechanisms as part of Duterte’s efforts not to neglect the indigenous people affected by armed conflicts.

In a report by ABS-CBN.com on August 22, 2017, Capuyan took a leave as assistant general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) after his name was dragged in the case of the alleged P6.4-billion shabu smuggling into the country. The shipment reportedly came from China and arrived via the Manila International Container Port in Tondo, Manila last May 16.

Former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, who resigned from his post last December 25, and brother-in-law lawyer Manases Carpio were also dragged into the controversy.

Dureza noted that Lumads comprise 75 percent of the rebels recruited by the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

He said they are working on another executive order that seeks “to provide full recognition and protection of the IP’s rights and welfare across the country.”

He added these efforts are in line with the national government’s policy agenda of creating a “greater synergy of existing governance mechanisms, and empower the nation’s indigenous peoples.”

Once issued, Dureza said he believes these two new measures will help address the root causes of the armed insurgencies, specifically within the Lumads’ ancestral domains.

In April 2017, the OPAPP created the Indigenous People’s Peace Panel under lawyer Reuben Lingating, which provided a venue for stakeholders to discuss and propose policy recommendations on how to help uplift the living conditions and protect the welfare of Lumads.

The panel organized the Mindanao Indigenous People’s Legislative Assembly (MIPLA) from August 30 to September 1, 2017, where they discussed the Lumads’ four bundles of rights consisting of right to govern their ancestral land, right to governance, right to economic development, and right to integrity and justice system within the areas that would be covered by the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The objectives of the event were to surface non-Moro IP-related issues and concerns relative to the proposed BBL; suggest possible “enhancements” to the draft law, specifically those that will impact on the rights/welfare of Mindanao’s non Moro-IPs; enable members of the Tribal Legislative Assembly to interface with representatives of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission; and submit legislative proposals that will mirror the views, dreams and aspirations of Mindanao’s non-Moro IPs, and be reflected in the proposed BBL.

During the assembly, the Lumads wanted their rights within the Bangsamoro territory to be protected and recognized in accordance to their customary laws and cultural practices once the new BBL is approved.

Dureza emphasized the need to address armed conflicts at its roots by understanding why people are waging a war against government and urged the “enlightened” members of the indigenous community to continue to “act as stewards of peace and development.”

“Don’t just shoot. We need to ask why they are rebelling against government. We need to show them [insurgents] that we can live peaceful, productive lives,” Dureza said.

On November 23 last year, President Duterte issued Proclamation 360, calling off the peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), two days before the supposed fifth round of formal peace negotiations on November 25 to 27 in Oslo, Norway. The NDF represents the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA in the talks.

On December 5, Duterte issued Proclamation 374 declaring the NPA and the CPP as terrorist organization pursuant to Republic Act 10168, also known as the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2002. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)