May 31, 2018 – “The Senators have given us hope, that our rights as non-Moro Indigenous Peoples will be recognized in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL),” says Timuay Leticio Datuwata, Lambangian leader from Upi, Maguindanao.
The Senate passed the BBL on third and final reading last night, with amendments that recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples living within the proposed core territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro. Timuay Datuwata’s ancestral domain lies within the proposed core territory.
According to Timuay Datuwata, their proposals are nothing new. “We just want the BBL to explicitly recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA), a national law which sets the minimum standards of recognition of IP rights. IPRA has never been implemented in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). This time, we hope it will be.”
Several Senators sponsored “IP amendments” including the freedom of choice of all indigenous peoples within the Bangsamoro territory “to retain their distinct indigenous and ethnic identity.” There was also the provision on the Free, Prior, Informed Consent or FPIC to be secured from indigenous people should their ancestral domain be part of the territory to be included in the contiguous or adjoining territory, as well as in the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources.
Another provision which was included in the Senate version is the Non-Derogation Clause, which guarantees that the BBL shall not, in any manner, diminish the rights and benefits of the Non-Moro IPs in the Bangsamoro, under the 1987 Constitution, national laws, particularly RA 8371 or IPRA.
The Senators who sponsored the “IP amendments” were Senators Drilon, Recto, Villanueva, Hontiveros, Legarda and Poe.
“We are happy that President Duterte has certified this bill as urgent. And we are happier that the Senators did not sacrifice IP rights in exchange of expediency,” says Mabel Carumba, an IP rights advocate from Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement (MPPM). “We are hopeful that these provisions would not be lost in the Bicameral conference committee meeting. The IP rights advocacy within BBL has come this far, and we hope for an inclusive BBL for an inclusive peace in Mindanao.”
MPPM is the Mindanao Secretariat of LOYUKAN (IPs in Central Mindanao term to mean comrade) a group composed of different Indigenous Political Structures, and IP rights advocates pushing for the full inclusion of IP rights within the BBL.