Bishop to gov’t: Remember Mindanao’s IPs

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TABUK, Kalinga, Oct. 16, 2014—As debates over the planned Bangsamoro entity continue, a high-ranking member of the local Church hierarchy reminds lawmakers not to forget the indigenous peoples (IPs) of Mindanao.

While Tabuk Apostolic Vicar Prudencio P. Andaya lauds government efforts at restoring peace in Southern Philippines, he appeals to Congress to hear the side of the IPs whose lives will be affected once the Bangsamoro is set in place.

“We are for peace. We recognize the peace efforts of the government and MILF. However, we are calling our legislators to include in the consultations the real participation of IP groups – the Teduray, Lambanginan and Dulangan Manobo communities in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is being deliberated in both houses of Congress,” he said.

In a statement issued on Oct. 12—“Indigenous Peoples’ Sunday”—Andaya expresses hope that the end result of the proposed law will include the indigenous peoples rights as distinct and as enshrined in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) or Republic Act 8371.

The prelate, who also chairs the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples (ECIP), stresses that it should adhere to the genuine peace agreement that does not only recognize the rights of our Moro brothers and sisters but the non-Moro indigenous peoples as well.

“Only through genuine consultations and constant dialogue with all the stakeholders could we achieve the peace that eludes us for so long,” he adds. (Raymond A. Sebastián)

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