COTABATO CITY -- The Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) has partnered with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) to bring to the Philippines for the first time the Indigenous Peoples’ Constitutional Assessment  Tool (IPCAT) to help IP leaders deepen their understanding of how the current legal regime promotes indigenous rights.


Around 30 IP leaders and government authorities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) attended the IPCAT workshop in Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao last July 14-18, 2019. The participants in the BARMM workshop used the IPCAT in assessing the 1987 Constitution, Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), and other relevant legislations and policies. 


The resource persons in the workshop were International IDEA senior programme officer and constitution-building advisor for the Asia Pacific Amanda Cats-Baril who introduced key concepts of IPCAT and indigenous rights to the participants, retired University of the Philippines professor and former member of the 1986 Philippine Constitutional Commission Ponciano Bennagen who discussed the state of indigenous rights in the Philippines under the 1987 Constitution, Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) member Romy Saliga who talked about the tasks ahead of the Bangsamoro Parliament in relation to indigenous peoples in the BARMM, and Timuay Alim Bandara of Timuay Justice and Governance (TJG) who shared the challenges concerning the status of Mindanao IPs. 


The BOL promulgated in 2018 gives the local Bangsamoro Government authority over indigenous peoples’ rights in the Bangsamoro territory. This means that under the current constitutional order in the Philippines, indigenous rights are subjected to central government authority under the 1987 Constitution and the Republic Law 8371, known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997, as well as to Bangsamoro Autonomous Government authority under the Bangsamoro Organic Law. The BOL entails an obligation to ensure reserved seats in elections for non- Moro indigenous peoples and lists extensive indigenous peoples’ rights in Article IX Sec. 2. Traditional justice systems are to be respected and integrated and the BTA is meant to include representation from indigenous peoples.


As such, there is a great opportunity in the legislative and institutional development accompanying implementation of the BOL to promote the protection of indigenous rights. This requires, however, a better baseline understanding of what the current framework for indigenous rights entails and where this might fall short in ensuring the dignity and substantive equality of indigenous peoples in the Bangsamoro.


Developed by International IDEA, the IPCAT aims to help users analyze a constitution, draft constitution or other foundational law from the perspective of the substantive equality of indigenous peoples. Using a series of questions, short explanations and international standards and example provisions from constitutions around the world, the IPCAT guides users through an examination of the most critical constitutional issues that affect indigenous peoples’ rights.


This will enable the participants to contribute to evidence-based advocacy agenda on indigenous peoples’ rights in the Bangsamoro, including proposals contributing to legislative, policy and institutional development in Bangsamoro. This in turn will enhance transition and local government actors’ understanding of their role in supporting indigenous peoples’ rights in Bangsamoro.


International IDEA intends to write a policy brief report and advocacy plan developed on the basis of workshops findings.