Tuesday Jan, 31 2023 10:04:03 PM

Land issues hound southern IP communities

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES NEWS • 09:15 AM Sat Apr 23, 2022
1
By: 
John M. Unson
Members of seven indigenous communities joined the three-day summit. (John Unson)

COTABATO CITY--- Dispossession of lands in ancestral domains remained as the major problem besetting the indigenous people in Southern Philippines.

Leaders of the Higaonon, Lambangian. Teduray, Blaan, Erumanen ne Menuvu and Menubo Dulangan communities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao told reporters, during a dialogue Thursday, that they are expecting the BARMM legislature to focus attention on the issue.

“We are being driven away from our ancestral lands via so many ways. We need protection. Some of these culprits have shown us very new land titles inside our ancestral lands,” a Teduray chieftain, Leticio Datuwata, said.

Datuwata represents a big IP sector in Maguindanao, a component-province of BARMM.

A number of Tedurays were killed in a spate of attacks by heavily-armed non-Tedurays in at least four barangays in South Upi from 2019 to February last year.

“Their intrusion into our ancestral lands stopped only after the 6th Infantry Division had set-up detachments in areas easy for these armed men to attack,” Datuwata said.

Romeo Saliga, a member of BARMM’s 80-seat regional parliament, most known as the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, said they are focusing attention on IP issues and concerns, one of which is “insulation” of ancestral lands from intruders with vested interests.

Thursday’s dialogue between IP chieftains and reporters was part of the April 19 to 21 summit on IP political structures.

The summit was organized by the Non-Moro Indigenous People’s Council, assisted by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance here.

Right to self-determination, autonomy on utilization of obtainable resources in their domains, access to free education, social welfare and health interventions from the government, were among the topics that summit participants had discussed lengthily.

There is a law, the now 24-year Indigenous People’s Rights Act, or IPRA, also known as the Republic Act 8371, conceding to the IPs control and management of their ancestral lands.

The IPRA also provided them imprimatur to harness resources essential to the attainment of peace and progress in their tribal abodes.

Saliga said he is certain the 80-seat BARMM parliament, led by Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, would focus on pro-IP legislations. 

 

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