DAVAO CITY, Philippines —Leaders of indigenous peoples have demanded that their ancestral lands be excluded from the proposed Bangsamoro territory, saying  failure to do so would go against their “inherent and inalienable right to self-determination.”

 

“We cannot accept Bangsamoro as our identity. We have our own identity and this is the Erumanen ne Menuvu,” Erumanen Datu Ronaldo Ambangan said as he read the declaration of the Erumanen ne Menuvu tribe during the June 24 congressional consultations on the proposed Bangsamoro in Midsayap town, North Cotabato province.

 

In Davao City, Timuay Alim Bandara, a Teduray leader, told the June 26 congressional committee hearing that peace should be given a chance not only for the Bangsamoro but also for all affected communities in Mindanao.

 

 

“I especially mentioned here other affected communities and societies because it was not only the Bangsamoro community and society that were affected by all the wars and armed encounters, by injustices and conflicts in this region,” Bandara said. “I am referring to the community and society of indigenous peoples, specifically the Teduray, Lambangian and Dulangan Manobo in portions of Maguindanao in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, where the Ipra (Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act) provisions have not been implemented in the past 17 years simply because we are inside an autonomous region that is the product of the peace process.”

 

He said the non-Moro indigenous peoples in the area who are covered by the peace agreement with Moro National Liberation Front were not only victims of war but also victims of peace because the Ipra, which should have been enjoyed by indigenous tribes in the last 17 years, was not implemented.

 

“This is why, since the signing of the FAB (Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro) in 2012, we indigenous peoples in the area have been coming out of the peace zone to say in public and in small forums our discomfort on the previous peace agreement,” he added.

 

Ambangan said the Erumanen had defined ancestral territories in Central Mindanao that also have ongoing delineation and titling processes in the Ipra. The Erumanen declaration asked national cultural communities in the House of Representatives that are conducting the hearing “to exclude our ancestral territories from the proposed Bangsamoro government, as it will damage our inherent and inalienable right to self-determination.”

 

Signed by Datu Al Saliling, Datu Roldan Babelon and Ambangan, who are all members of the council of leaders of the Erumanen ne Menuvu, the declaration also claimed that the Erumanen had been exercising their own governance system, called Gempa te Kelindaan ne Kamal, since time immemorial and cited the peace covenants forged between and among the Bangsamoro and Erumanen ne Menuvu in the past, which, though constantly violated, governed their peaceful coexistence with the Bangsamoro tribes.

 

Erumanen leaders called on Congress to craft a resolution directing the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to fast-track the delineation and titling of the ancestral domain of the Erumanen ne Menuvu and other non-Moro indigenous peoples in the adjacent areas of the proposed Bangsamoro territories, to ensure enough budget for the process and to respect the  Erumanen ne Menuvu’s right to free, prior and informed consent in cases of the expansion of Bangsamoro territories.

 

They also asked the NCIP to finally issue a title, not just a resolution of granting the title, to Erumanen ne Menuvu claimants, particularly the ancestral domain claims in Barangay (village) Aroman and neighboring villages and in Renibon in Pigcawayan town, as well as the unified ancestral domain claim of Libungan, Aleosan, Midsayap and Pikit towns, all in Cotabato province. -- Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao