DAVAO CITY, Philippines – An indigenous people (IP) tribal leader in Mindanao expressed concern that their bundle of rights might be disregarded by the time the federal form of government is implemented.
Rights of the IP tribes such as ancestral domain rights, self-governance, justice system and cultural integrity might vanish with the proposed federalism, said Lipatuan Joel Andres Unad, chairman of the Mindanao Peoples Conference for Peace and Development (MIPCPD).
Under the country’s Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997, the “State shall protect their rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs)/IPs to their ancestral domains to ensure their economic, social and cultural well-being and shall recognize the applicability of customary laws governing property rights or relations in determining the ownership and extent of ancestral domain.”
However, by the time federalism would be put in place, Unad asked: “where would they be when the new form of government is implemented?”
“Will it be a state of Bangsamoro, state of civil society, CPP (Communist Part of the Philippines)?”
‘Not against federalism’
Unad, a tribal chieftain of the Obu-Manuvu in Marilog district here, clarified that they are not against federalism but wants to see a clearer vision of what would be their situation and participation in terms of federalism and its process.
“We need to see a clear picture,” he said.
On August 10, President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his call to change the country’s form of government from unitary to federal type saying that this could bring peace especially in the southern part of the country.
Meanwhile, MIPCPD aims to discuss the economic development, peace and security and advancement of cultural development among the tribal leaders in Mindanao in the upcoming 7th Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Convention which will be held on August 29-31 in Matina Aplaya, this city.
Unad said it is necessary to possess a collective voice and to synchronize efforts of the IPs of Mindanao in the name of nation building.
The island of Mindanao has 18 major ethnographic tribes and comprises 60 percent of the total population of IPs nationwide. (davaotoday.com)