Friday, September 30, 2016

Lumads in Mindanao, NCIP to push agenda for Indigenous Peoples in peace tables

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 29): Lumads in Mindanao, NCIP to push agenda for Indigenous Peoples in peace tables

The Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in Mindanao will push their agenda to the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) peace panels, hopeful that this time, their voices will be heard.

Saying the IPs have been sidelined in peace talks, the Lumad Mindanaw People’s Federation and the PASAKA Federation of Lumad Organization in Southern Mindanao wanted a peace agenda and representation in the peace process.

Among the telling issues from both groups are the de-militarization of the Indigenous Peoples communities, recognition of right to self-determination, review of the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) issuances, cancellation of mining and timber licenses and the demarcation of 33 Lumad territories.

During the Media Roundtable Discussion on Indigenous Peoples and the Peace Process on Wednesday at Pinnacle Hotel, Jimid Mansayagan, Lumad Mindanaw chair governing council, said Lumads have been marginalized ever since. He lamented that even the learned people look at Lumads as primitive and backward.

Through the years, Mansayagan said Lumads have been pushed back into the boondocks. This time, however, they have no safer place to go as armed conflicts were brought right into their communities.

While they are neither pro-government nor anti-communist rebels, Mansayagan said Lumad Mindanaw is pushing the total de-militarization of IP communities and the immediate demarcation of 33 tribes in Mindanao.

Pasaka chair Kerlan Fanagel has called for a stop to the implementation of the Internal Peace and Security Plan-Oplan Bayanihan and Peace and Development Outreach Program of the Philippine Army (PA) and renewed calls for a military pull-out and paramilitary forces.

He said that military operations have caused harassment and other human rights violations against the Lumads.

Even the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples ((NCIP) is now into the last of a series of peace dialogues with IPs nationwide to set reforms and agenda on social and political aspects affecting the IPs.

NCIP Commissioner Dominador Gomez, Ethnographic Commissioner for Regions 9 and 10, said they already completed peace dialogues with CADT holders in Luzon and Mindanao. After the Visayas dialogue, a national conference of around 80 members from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao will review the general situation of the IPs that includes IP representation in national and international bodies, and peace negotiations to ensure the real issues within the ancestral domain are laid down.

Gomez, who is a member of the Higaonon tribe, highlighted the importance of reviewing the origin, history, language, economic system practices, political systems and practices, social system, justice and peace building processes of the IPs from the start to the present.

GRP peace panel members, lawyers Antonio Arellano and Angela Librado assured that there will be institutional mechanisms available especially for sectors vulnerable to armed conflict.

She said JMC would lay down the guidelines to lodge complaints and how to treat them.

Librado said the plight of Lumads will be included in the discussion of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Socio-economic Reforms in the second round of peace negotiations on October 6 to 10 in Oslo, Norway.

Arellano said that two members of panel committees from the GRP side are well-knowledgeable to lumad issues. He said most of the panel members are human rights lawyers, thus would surely take cognizance of the plight of the Lumads and look for solutions to their basic problems.

There are also opportunities that Lumad issues will be discussed and resolved. While there is fragmentation and sharp political ideological divisions of IPs, Arellano said the proposed Federal form of government is also open for discussion in the peace talks that could address political and social divisions.

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