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A Genuine Non-Moro Indigenous Peoples Code Recognizes ourIdentities, our Ancestral Domains, and our Collective Rights

NMIP Indigenous Political Structures’ Unified Statement on Bill 273 or the
“Bangsamoro Indigenous Peoples Development Act of 2024”

We, the Non-Moro Indigenous Peoples (NMIP) political structures, the Gempe te

Kelindaan ne Kamal te Erumanen ne Menuvu (Erumanen ne Menuvu), Mënubù

Dulangan Tribal Justice and Self-Governance (Mënubù Dulangan) and Timuay

Justice and Governance (Tëduray and Lambangian), express our deep concern about

the future of our ancestral domains and our collective rights if the Bangsamoro Transition

(Bill 273)” as their proposed Indigenous Peoples Code (IP Code) in the Bangsamoro


In 2018, we celebrated the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) recognizing our distinct

identity and rights as NMIPs as is clearly stated in Section 9 of Article 4:

Rights of Non-Moro Indigenous Peoples. - The Bangsamoro Government shall recognize

and promote the rights of Non-Moro Indigenous Peoples within the framework of the

Constitution and national laws.

We hoped that by recognizing our rights, the BTA was committing to eventually passing

an IP Code responsive to the rights and needs of NMIPs, which we firmly propose to be

the NMIP Code.

On 21 February 2024, Bill 273 was filed and endorsed by the Bangsamoro Cabinet as

their proposed IP Code. Reviewing the contents of Bill 273, we cannot help but feel that

it is far from the NMIP Code we envisioned. Bill 273 fails to recognize our self-ascription

as Non-Moro Indigenous Peoples.

As Indigenous Political Structures (IPS) of the Erumanen ne Menuvu, Mënubù Dulangan,

Tëduray, and Lambangian, we actively participate in all spaces that can forward our

insights and recommendations to help shape the proposed IP Code in the Bangsamoro

region. Under the BTA 1 (2018-2022), we endorsed a draft of what we believe to be a

responsive NMIP Code. Now, under BTA 2, we have presented a “Peoples’ Code” that

Member of Parliament (MP) Froilyn Mendoza filed as the “Non-Moro Indigenous Peoples

Bill 166 is our proposal for an NMIP Code that embodies our aspirations. In pursuing longlasting peace in the Bangsamoro region, our legislative proposal aims to address the

historical injustices faced by our communities.

We have waited for an opportunity to present our concerns, clarifications, and

recommendations on Bill 273. However, the organized public consultations by the BTA

Committee on Indigenous Peoples Affairs (CIPA) have proved inadequate for meaningful

democratic participation, due to the sudden changes in schedule, and the limited time

allotted for our engagement.

Nonetheless, we continue to exhaust all available means to make ourselves heard. We

present this unified statement as the IPS’ of the Erumanen ne Menuvu, Mënubù

Dulangan, Tëduray, and Lambangian to declare our sentiments on Bill 273 and to forward

our proposal for a genuine NMIP Code.

We propose an NMIP Code that is rights-based. The ‘developmental’ framing of Bill

273 falls short in capturing our interconnected collective rights as Indigenous Peoples.

We propose that a linear view of development should not be imposed on us. We follow

the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ (UNDRIP) concept

on the “right to development” where we determine what kind of development is right for

us and how it should be implemented.

Our rights should be recognized as bundles, not parceled into different legislations. An

example is the failure of Bill 273 to safeguard our political representation through the

reserved seats for NMIPs; it rests on the Bangsamoro Electoral Code (BEC) to provide

for such provision. We assert that the proposed IP Code must articulate all rights

accorded to us by international treaties, national laws, and regional laws as legal bases.

We propose an NMIP Code that recognizes our native titles and ancestral domains.

We fear that Bill 273’s proposal “to declare the entire Bangsamoro territory as shared

ancestral domain” will trample on our right to govern our ancestral domains that define

our distinct identities. Bill 273 emphasizes the ‘kinship’ between the Moro and NMIPs. We

believe this ‘kinship’ does not entail a “shared” territory but an acknowledgment of the

respect for each respective territory that our peace pacts and oral histories can affirm.

Furthermore, we emphasize that the proposed IP Code should allow our ancestral domain

claims to be processed. Section 3 in Article 9 of the BOL protects our right to our native

titles as Indigenous Peoples (IPs). Concretely, we assert that the Bangsamoro

government must recognize and respect the areas within its jurisdiction where there are

existing Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs). We specifically cite CADT 164 of

the Erumanen ne Menuvu, part of which is located in the Special Geographic Areas

(SGAs), and CADT 229 of the Mënubù Dulangan in Ampatuan, Maguindanao del Sur.

In addition, we stress that the same recognition must be applied to the Tëduray and

Lambangian Ancestral Domain Claim (TLADC), which has been pending since 2005. In

a context where BTA Resolution 38 protests the delineation process of ancestral domains

in Maguindanao provinces, Section 100 of Bill 273 instructs turning-over of the pending

application to the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples (MIPA) which may impede on the free and speedy delineation process of our ancestral domain claims. The BTA must recognize

NCIP’s jurisdiction on CADT applications submitted prior to the enactment of a version of

the IP Code.

We assert that the national and regional government must include us in the discussions

on Camp Transformation under the Normalization Track where camp areas are located

or adjacent to our ancestral domains – namely Camps Bad’r and Omar. We uphold that

the ownership of these areas must be restored to the NMIPs as rights holders. Without

this recognition, our communities will continue to experience massive forced

displacements, and occupation by outsiders.

We propose an NMIP Code that recognizes our distinct identity. We maintain that

identities are dynamic as they respond to the calls of time and need. We uphold our

distinctness from the Bangsamoro peoples that the BOL already recognizes. These

changing identities are not new: the Philippine government has for so long defined our

identities. We are called the “non-Christian tribes,” “national minorities,” “Indigenous

cultural communities,” and “Indigenous Peoples.” Our determination to define ourselves

as NMIPs is valid and we will defend our right to self-ascribe to the identities that

correspond to our realities.

Ultimately, we propose the passage of a genuine NMIP Code. We reiterate our

endorsement of the bill that we have painstakingly drafted and shaped – the “Non-Moro

Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (Bill 166).” This bill is our proposal for the genuine NMIP

Code that complies with the 1987 Constitution, Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA),

and BOL.

Therefore, we strongly urge the BTA to support our self-determined NMIP Code. This

version can enable the full realization of our Indigenous rights – which, in our view, is a

vital aspect of a moral and inclusive governance in the Bangsamoro region.

Gempe te Kelindaan ne Kamal te Erumanen ne Menuvu

IPS of Erumanen ne Menuvu

Mënubù Dulangan Tribal Justice and Self-Governance

IPS of Mënubù Dulangan

Timuay Justice and Governance

IPS of Tëduray and Lambangian

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