COTABATO CITY, Philippines - The government’s peace panel on Thursday allayed apprehensions that indigenous non-Moro communities under a Bangsamoro entity led by the Moro Islamic Liberation would be marginalized.


GPH chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, in an interview with Catholic station dxMS here, said the government and MILF peace panels both acknowledge the  plurality of the communities in the proposed Bangsamoro territory.


“The two panels are aware that there are Moro people, Christians, and indigenous non-Moro residents in the area and that is a fact the two panels fully recognize,” Ferrer said.


Ferrer was accompanied to dxMS station here, to talk about the gains and recent breakthroughs in the GPH-MILF talks, by two members of her panel, Senen Bacani and Yasmin Busran Lao.


Ferrer said the government and MILF panels also acknowledge the cultural, religious and traditional identities of the communities in the proposed Bangsamoro domain.


Bacani said the government and the MILF have not ignored the importance and the legal parameters of the Republic Act 837, also known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, in the crafting of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB).


The FAB is the basis for the setting up of a Bangsamoro political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao before the term of incumbent ARMM officials end on June 30, 2016.


There are thousands of non-Muslim indigenous folks in some areas the MILF wants to group together under the Bangsamoro entity, among them the ethnic Teduray, Dulungan-Menuvu, Manevu, Tiboli, and Bagobo tribes that are scattered across Southern Mindanao. -- John Unson/Philippine Star