DAVAO CITY – Indigenous Peoples (IP) groups in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) have declared their support for the pending bills for the extension of the Bangsamoro transition period to 2025 through a manifesto signed by IP leaders on the day of President Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Copies of the manifesto were sent to the senators on Wednesday, July 28. The manifesto was signed by Phoebe Grace Villamor, Provincial Tribal Chieftain of the Higaonon Tribe; Jocelyn Palao, IP Women Representative; Timuay Felino Samar, tribal chieftain of the Teduray tribe; and Bae Magdalena Suhat of the North Cotabato Council of Elders.
The Manifesto said various tribes including the Teduray, Lambangian, Dulangan Manobo, Arumanen Manobo, Higaonon, Samah Badjaw, and other IPs in the BARMM “strongly support the call for the passage of the bill extending the transition period for another three years.”
“If the transition period will not be extended, the Indigenous Peoples fear that the desired institutional reforms, particularly the protection and preservation of the Fusaka Inged (ancestral lands) and the entrenchment of the Tribal Justice System will be relegated and forgotten like what previously happened in the defunct ARMM,” the manifesto reads.
Under Republic Act No. 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) is mandated to enact seven priority codes including the Indigenous Peoples Code to promote the rights and welfare of the IPs.
The signatories added that “the process of IP Code drafting, consultations, and consensus-building among the various tribes is still ongoing at various levels.”
They added that the legal and cultural process of informing the cultural communities including their traditional leaders, cultural keepers, healers, and tribal chieftains have been affected by the pandemic which caused the delay in the enactment of the IP Code.
The drafting of the IP Code is led by IP representatives in the BTA, Members of the Parliament (MPs) Timuay Melanio Ulama and Romy Saliga.
The signatories also called on their fellow tribal leaders to unite and support the reforms “that the transition period is tasked to institutionalize.”
“Let us stay the course and remain focus (on) pursuing the path to peace and moral governance,” they added.