May 28, 2018 – “It’s not too late to give justice to non-Moro Indigenous Peoples in the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Amend SB 1717 to include IP rights provisions on identity, and non-derogation of our rights,” says Timuay Leticio Datuwata, Lambangian leader from Upi, Maguindanao.
“As you try to meet the Malacanang deadline for the passage of BBL, you can still introduce amendments to it, and defend them in the bi-cam meeting,” Timuay Datuwata urged the Senators. Today the Senate starts the period of amendments to the proposed BBL. Both houses of Congress are pressured to pass the BBL before sine die adjournment of the Congress on June 2. President Rodrigo Duterte wants to sign the BBL into law before May 30.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that if they pass the BBL, it might become the template for the regional federal states or federal regions.
“The BBL should then be very explicit in the articulation of IP rights, with RA 8371 or Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) as the minimum standard. Otherwise, you may have federal states, like ARMM or Bangsamoro if BBL is passed, which do not recognize IP rights,” Timuay Leticio points out. “That would be injustice.”
One of the proposed amendments of LOYUKAN, a group which Timuay Leticio is part of, is on Identity. They are pushing for a recognition of distinct indigenous and ethnic identity of non-Moro Indigenous Peoples within the proposed Bangsamoro. They are also pushing for a Non-Derogation Clause, which states that: “The Bangsamoro Basic Law shall not, in any manner, diminish the rights and benefits of the Non-Moro Indigenous Peoples in the Bangsamoro, under the 1987 Constitution, national laws, particularly Republic Act No. 8371, or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, International Conventions and Covenants, Treaties, Awards, Customs and Traditional Agreements, Accords and Sacred Pacts.” The LOYUKAN has 11 proposed amendments, which they have submitted to Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, the main proponent of SB1717.
“The BBL is being touted as a peace instrument. Then let it be peace for all peoples in Mindanao,” says Timuay Leticio Datuwata. “We hope that the 17th Congress will finally be able to take concrete steps towards inclusive peace by passing an inclusive BBL.” LOYUKAN (IPs in Central Mindanao term to mean comrade) is a group composed of different Indigenous Political Structures, and IP rights advocates pushing for the full inclusion of IP rights within the BBL.