DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Indigenous People (IP) leaders from three major Mindanao IP networks convened to launch Lumad Husay Mindanaw (LHM), an intertribal solidarity designed to promote IP inclusion in the ongoing peace process between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

During the peace forum held at the Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) on Friday, an independent Lumad peace panel consisting of representatives from the Lumad Mindanao People’s Federation (LMPF), Katawhang Lumad Council of the Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (KL-MPPM), and the Mindanao IP Peace Forum (MIPPF) presented their proposals for the peace process.

According to LHM Panel Chair Titay Bleyen Leticio Datuwata, their appeal entitled Asoy sa Kalinaw, is intended to support the proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), ceasefire and amnesty proclamation.

“We believe and trust in the process of making peace because it is the only best option that we have in this generation, a negotiated peace,” Datuwata declared.

The key policy agenda discussed included the importance of the identity as indigenous people, claims on their Ancestral Domains (Ads), appeals to pilot the coordinated unilateral ceasefire immediately and issues about extractive industries.

In terms of the Amnesty Proclamation binding the GRP and NDFP, the panel calls “for both parties to recognize the indigenous justice system to all offenders whose cases are put forward to the elders/tribal council or indigenous courts especially within their domains.”

Additionally, the proposal emphasized the role of transitional justice in the peace negotiations since it defines the post-conflict era especially in translating the milestones under the normalization phrase.

Noticeably, the main points highlighted in the agendas centered on the IPs assertion of their right to self-determination as part of the consensus building process among community leaders.

In their official statement, the LHM believes that only a united IP constituency can meaningfully translate an IP agenda into action and concretize meaningful self-governance.

While the LHM invited representatives from the City Mayor’s Office, GRP Peace Panel, Davao Archbishop and Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, only the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPPAP) responded to their request.

On behalf of OPPAP, Indigenous People Concern Undersecretary Allen Capuyan said since the office’s formation last April, they have been pursuing efforts to promote greater IP participation through IP convergence summits in the three major islands.

The LHM initiative is said to be proof that despite decades of conflict that has turned the ancestral domains of ethnic tribes into battlegrounds, the IP communities in the region remain steadfast in voice as members of the society.

The forum was organized with the help of the Indigenous People – Civil Society Organization Convergence of ADDU. (davaotoday.com)

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