BTC Task Force on Indigenous People conducts Consultation- Dialogue

The Task Force on Indigenous People (IP’s) organized by the Office of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Chairman Ghazali Jaafar conducted a dialogue-consultation with the IP leaders held at Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on April 30, 2017.

About 81 IP leaders from the municipalities of South Upi, North Upi, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Shariff Aguak, Ampatuan and Datu Abdullah Sangki, all in Maguindanao province attended the activity. 

Datu Antao Midtimtimbang, Senior Adviser of the BTC Chairman Jaafar warmly welcomed the IP leaders with a gesture of true Bangsamoro brothers and sisters. “Do not think that we are not brothers. Our forefathers were brothers, the Mamalo and Tabunaway”, told the IP’s.

 Remember, the people in Manila who are allegedly helping you are just there until their interest are serve. When troubles come in our area, nobody would take the responsibility. Let us help one another as bothers Bangsamoro. There is a saying, “Catch first the deer before we divide it.” Datu Antao said. 

In Talayan, I told the Datu sa Talayan, my brother that whatever is due to our brother Tirurays give it to them. We are inviting you all my brothers IP’s to come in Talayan anytime. Let us pray to the Oneness of Allah (S.W.T.) that we will be united and help one another to achieve our main objectives. Hopefully, you will understand the good objectives of the Bangsamoro not only for the Muslim Bangsamoro but also for the non-Muslim Bangsamoro, Datu Antao also said.   

This dialogue-consultation with the IP’s aims to level -off the group on the peace process, basic rights and benefits they are entitled to under the BBL. And, to let the IP’s participate in consolidating the BBL before its submission to the Office of the President on May 18, 207.   

Three (3) BTC Commissioners identified with the IP’s are Comm. Romeo Saliga, Comm. Dr. Susana Anayatin, and Comm. Timuay Melanio Ulama.  

During the consultation, the IP leaders urged Commm. Saliga and Com. Ulama to settle first the IP issues on their level to avoid the repetition of the previous incident were both parties have their own groups that lobbied in 16th Congress. It’s very unfair and embarrassing on our part to see again the two IP commissioners (GPH and MILF) shall do the same, Datu Areston said.      

Uz. Nasser Campong, IP leader expressed his concern on the two IP commissioners (Comm. Saliga and Comm. Ulama) who have seemingly different position and urged them to be fair and faithful to their assigned task. 

Actually, I read the committee report output of the two IP commissioners and Com. Saliga’s report is obviously will not serve the interest of the IP’s, instead that of the interest of the people in Manila. “Do not use your position as commissioner to divide the IP’s and push them into the wall and fight each other”, Campong stressed. 

BTC Chairman Jaafar impressed for the first time as he talked personally with the IP’s in same level to discuss to tackle down the very important issues and concerns. With due respect to our commissioners here, Comm. Saliga, Comm. Dr. Anayatin and Comm. Ulama and the IP leaders, honestly, I’ll be frank with you as BTC chairman and 1st Vice Chairman of the MILF, Central Committee. I am acting as the father of the twenty (20) commissioners. 

The government side has their own IP representative, the same with the MILF. I have an obligation to guide you. Whether you are MILF or GPH commissioner, there’s no difference in dealing with you. Kung kaya’t, ang dapat na mangibababaw ay ang interest natin lahat, hindi ang interest ng individual. 

BTC Chairman Jaafar compared the situation of the Bangsamoro and Palestine. The people of Palestine have their own land and territory. In short, they’re independent state but what happened to Palestine? Israel occupied their territory and they are oppressed until now. 

Ganito rin ang nangyayari dito sa atin, dahil tayo ay na-oppressed. Remember, Lahat tayo mga Bangsamoro ay oppressed dahil ang goberno ay hindi sa atin. 

Jaafar quoted a popular Tagalog saying, “Sinumang tao hindi marunong lumingon sa kanyang pinanggalingan ay hindi makararting sa kanyang paroroonan.

ABC President Ariel Layson of North Upi relayed the message of North Upi Mayor Ramon Piang to his colleagues and IP leaders that says, “Let us be honest and truthful in our support to the BBL and the peace process.”

This is the consensus and message of the IP leaders in North Upi, Layson said.   

Comm. Ulama explained that IP commissioners are only messengers of the tribe and what we are bringing to the BTC are those ideas coming from the (IP’s). In governance, under the proposed parliamentary system of government, the IP’s have a chance to have representatives to the legislature. He allayed the fears of non-Muslims that they could no longer exercise their religious practices, drink liquor, eat pork once the Bangsamoro government is established. There’s no truth on that issue, Comm. Ulama said.  

Comm. Anayatin challenged the IP’s by saying, “Let us proceed in our ambition and let our children to study, to achieve the peace with high expectation where we have a process to follow. CAB signed, work for peace, piece by piece to resolve the Bangsamoro issue

How do we secure our ancestral domain if the IFRA Law is not implemented? IP’s leader asked.

BTC Chair Jaafar replied, “Once we have established a Bangsamoro government, then, we will have a law that can provide for the titling of our lands. He added that once we have a government we can request from the foreign big companies and sign a contract on ‘government to government’ scheme to establish many factories that could sustain economic development and employment, No need to go abroad, BTC chair said.     

IP leaders Consensus point of suggestion and recommendation

1. To avoid the repetition of the previous experience of the BBL that whatever issues that need to be included in the BB, the two commissioners shall resolve first on their level, not in congress.

2. IPRA Law shall be set aside and fully support the BBL that clearly gives more benefits to IP’s than IPRA Law.   

3. Let us be honest and support the passage of the BBL in Congress. 

Task Force on IP’s Chairperson, Dir. Fatima Kanakan in her closing remarks expressed her thanks and gratitude to all IP leaders who have attended and gave their ample time to the consultation-dialogue. What we are asking from you is to support the GPH-MILF peace process. We better talk issues that would benefits us and support it, Dir. Kanakan said.