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Govt peace panel member urges lumads to take advantage of MILF consultations

Posted By: Chris Costuya On:


CAGAYAN DE ORO City, March 6, 2001—The member of the government peace negotiating panel representing the indigenous peoples yesterday urged all the lumads to come out, join and make their stand known to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) during its consultations with its constituencies in Mindanao, including the IPs.

Dr. Ronald Adamat, who is of Tiduray stock from North Upi, Maguindanao province and a commissioner in the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), said that the lumads should take advantage of the consultations “so that the true sentiments of the lumads will be unfolded regarding the peace talks. At the same time, the lumads could make some bargains in the process.”

Adamat said that while it is the MILF that is negotiating peace with the government, the lumads also play a very important role in the outcome of the talks as well as benefit from whatever good result both sides will agree on in the negotiations.

The MILF recently reported that it will be conducting a series of consultations with leaders of the indigenous peoples within the territory of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to update them about the negotiations.

Jun Mantawil, head of the MILF Secretariat, said the consultation will be a venue for an “in-depth discussion of issues to concretize their understanding of the process and how they fit in to support it” as the peace process also affects the lives and future of the lumads.

Adamat praised the MILF for such move. He, however, urged the MILF to make the consultation “honest-to-goodness.”

“That has always been the stand of the MILF. Again, at least they are consulting the IPs. It goes to show that they are also concern about the would-be effects of the peace process among lumads particularly on the issue of ancestral domain,” Adamat told this reporter during a “chat” on Facebook.

He also said that with the resumption of the peace negotiations and with the MILF taking the initiatives to consult the IPs, the challenge now is for the lumads “to mainstream their agenda in the MILF agenda.”

And one way of mainstreaming lumad agenda in the overall agenda of the MILF is for the lumads to “assert the gains we have reached in the last talks where the MILF agreed to respect the AD [ancestral domain] of lumads within or adjacent to the bigger AD of the Bangsamoro,” he said.

“Lumads must also assert the mandate of IPRA [Indigenous Peoples Rights Act] vis-a-vis Moro homeland claim,” he added.

However, Adamat acknowledged that there are some “purists” within the lumads who espoused that IPs should never be subservient to the Moros because historically, the lumads have never been conquered by the Muslim conquistadores in the same way that the Muslims in Mindanao have never been conquered by the Spanish colonizers nor by the Americans and other regimes.

The lumads are originally animists when Islam arrived in the Philippines through Sarip Kabungsuwan and Rajah Baginda in 1475 and Christianity in 1521 through Ferdinand Magellan. When these two great religions were introduced in the Philippines, some lumads chose to be converted to Islam while others to Christianity.

The MILF claim that among all the IP tribes in Mindanao, the Tiduray has the biggest number of converts to Islam, followed by Subanen, then by B’laan, and Tiboli. The Front also claimed that many of the Moros in South Cotabato, Sarangani, and Sultan Kudarat have B’laan blood in their veins.

Adamat said that history also showed that while unconquered, the lumads “had lived side by side with the Moros and they have long determined their historical boundaries.”

“What the lumads should do is to assert these unwritten agreements. And I think the MILF is pretty much aware of these that’s why they agreed to respect the AD of thelumads during my presentation in the last talks,” he said.

A lumad leader of Higaonon stock said that it is only through proper consultations, whether by the MILF or by the government, that the true sentiments of the lumads will come to the fore in relation to the peace talks.

Jomorito “Datu Inbanwag” Goaynon, chairperson of the Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization based in Bukidnon said that through the peace negotiations, the lumads’ problems will be thoroughly discussed and solutions found.

Kalumbay counts as members hundreds of lumad peoples irregardless of tribe from the provinces of Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte and even from the Davao provinces.

From January 25 to February 4, the MILF held a series of consultations with various sectors in Mindanao at its base in Camp Darapanan located in Barangay Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

The upcoming consultations with lumads that the MILF planned to do soon will be its second such consultations this year and the first with the lumads. (Bong D. Fabe)


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