TEDURAY farmers work in their community farm in South Upi, Maguindanao del Sur. (Keith Bacongco)

BARMM urged to pass genuine IP code

DAVAO CITY (May 23, 2024)– Various Indigenous Peoples (IP) have urged the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) to pass an IP Code that truly reflects the aspirations of IPs in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The Gempe te Kelindaan ne Kamal te Erumanen ne Menuvu (Erumanen ne Menuvu), Mënubù Dulangan Tribal Justice and Self-Governance (Mënubù Dulangan), and Timuay Justice and Governance (Tëduray and Lambangian) issued the statement amid issues hounding the Bangsamoro Indigenous Peoples Development Act of 2024 (Bill 273) pushed by the BTA.

They are wary that this pending version of the bill does not genuinely recognize the rights of the IPs in the region.

As the Bangsamoro Organic Law mandates the Bangsamoro government recognizes the IP groups within region as Non-Moro Indigenous Peoples (NMIP), they said that they are hoping that the BTA is also committed to pass an IP Code that is responsive to the rights and needs of NMIPs.

On February 21, the BTA filed the Bill 273 and was eventually endorsed by the Bangsamoro Cabinet as their proposed IP Code.
The BTA is mandated to enact seven priority codes, with five already passed into law.  The IP Code and Revenue Code are the two remaining cides that have yet to be enacted.

However, IP groups chided the proposed IP code, saying that it is far from the NMIP Code they envisioned.
They added that Bill 723 fails to recognize the self-ascription of NMIPs.

Instead, the groups is pushing for a more responsive NMIP code through Member of Parliament (MP) Froilyn Mendoza – the Non-Moro Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (Bill 166).

Under Bill 166, the IP groups stressed that it embodies the genuine aspirations of the tribes in the region.

“We propose an NMIP Code that is rights-based. The ‘developmental’ framing of Bill 273 falls short in capturing our interconnected collective rights as Indigenous Peoples. We propose that a linear view of development should not be imposed on us,” they said.
The IP groups added that the IP code should follow the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ (UNDRIP) concept on the “right to development,” which allows the tribes to determine what kind of development is right for them and how it should be implemented.

The IP groups underscored that the NMIP Code should recognize the native titles and ancestral domains of the IPs in the region.

“We fear that Bill 273’s proposal ‘to declare the entire Bangsamoro territory as shared ancestral domain’ will trample on our right to govern our ancestral domains that define our distinct identities.”

While Bill 273 emphasizes the “kinship” between the Muslims and the NMIPs, they emphasized that the kinship does not entail a “shared” territory but an acknowledgment of the respect for each respective territory that the peace pacts and oral histories can affirm.

The IP groups called on the Bangsamoro government to recognize and respect the areas within its jurisdiction where t Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs) exist.

“We specifically cite CADT 164 of the Erumanen ne Menuvu, part of which is located in the Special Geographic Areas (SGAs), and CADT 229 of the Mënubù Dulangan in Ampatuan, Maguindanao del Sur.”

NMIPs represent about two percent of the BARMM’s 4.4 million population and about six distinct IP groups.
Many of these IP groups are located in the hinterlands of Maguindanao provinces and Special Geographic Areas in North Cotabato.

They urged the BARMM leadership to approve the Tëduray and Lambangian Ancestral Domain Claim (TLADC) that straddles across the provinces of Maguindanao del Norte,  Maguindanao del Sur and parts of Sultan Kudarat.

The application for Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) has been pending since 2005.

The IP groups proposed that the NMIP Code recognizes the distinct identity of the tribes in the region.

“We strongly urge the BTA to support our self-determined NMIP Code. This version can enable the full realization of our indigenous rights – which, in our view, is a vital aspect of a moral and inclusive governance in the Bangsamoro region.”