Saturday, October 25, 2014

IPs to benefit from additional rights under Bangsamoro Law

Upi, Maguindanao – The Bangsamoro Basic Law will not only protect the rights of the indigenous peoples (IPs) enshrined in Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997 but more importantly, guarantee additional rights for them.

“The Bangsamoro Basic Law will be in favor of the Indigenous Peoples in the Bangsamoro because of the additional rights provided in the proposed law,” said Cagayan de Oro second district Representative Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House of Representatives' Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL duringWednesday’s first out-of-town congressional hearing held in Upi, Maguindanao. “It is very clear that all the rights in the IPRA are already in the BBL and there are more,” he stressed.

Rodriguez issued the statement in response to concerns expressed by IP leaders that there should be no derogation and dilution of the IP rights already guaranteed in the IPRA.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Assistant Secretary Howard Cafugauan affirmed Rodriguez’ statement and clarified that the protection of IP rights in the BBL is also accordance with the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.

IPs political participation

At the same time, Cafugauan noted that beyond the definite recognition of IP rights in the Bangsamoro is the assurance of the right to political participation and representation in the Bangsamoro Government. Cafugauan cited Article VII, Sec. 5.3 of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, which provides for “sectoral representatives, constituting ten percent (10%) of the Members of Parliament, including two (2) reserved seats each for non-Moro indigenous communities and settler communities.”

 He added that the BBL also provides for the creation of an appropriate ministry or office for the IPs by the Bangsamoro parliament. “This ministry of Indigenous Peoples is at the cabinet-level. This is how IP rights are significantly recognized and respected in the BBL,” Cafugauan said.

To ensure more opportunities for IPs political participation, Rodriguez also committed that Congress will consider the proposal given by the Indigenous Peoples Technical Working Group for a separate district for the municipalities of Datu Blah Sinsuat, South Upi, and North Upi in Maguindanao, which are largely populated by IPs.

Meanwhile, Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) legal consultant Atty Lanang Ali, Jr. also shared that IPs will receive higher equitable share in revenues from the exploration, development, and utilization of resources in their ancestral lands as opposed to the one-percent (1%) royalty provided for by the IPRA Law.

Tribal university

Rodriguez also noted the establishment of a tribal university system in the Bangsamoro which will help preserve all the customs and traditions, and cultures of the IPs in Mindanao, while also providing the much needed educational opportunities.

“I am excited for your children because I am of indigenous ancestry as my grandmother, Amparo Bagaboyo is a Higaonon from Bukidnon,” Rodriguez said, explaining that the BBL provides for the creation by the Bangsamoro parliament of a tribal university system that seeks to address the higher educational needs of the indigenous cultural communities in the Bangsamoro. ##

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