Engage from a principles-based position, focus on building strong political institutions.


This was the message of IAG Executive Director Benedicto Bacani at the opening of “Usapang IP sa Bangsamoro” last Friday, August 30, in Cotabato City – the first of a roundtable series IAG will undertake to provide a platform for IP leaders in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to engage the parliament through their representatives in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).


The non-Moro IPs are at a critical stage of their struggle during the transition, Bacani said, but he noted that they are in this struggle now from a much stronger position than they were before because they have the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on their side.


“There are a lot of guarantees [for IPs in the BOL], it’s just a matter of asserting those guarantees and rights,” he said.


The BOL states that “any measure enacted by the Parliament shall in no way diminish the rights and privileges granted to indigenous peoples by virtue of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, and other laws pertaining to indigenous peoples in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.”


In addition, the BOL “shall not in any manner diminish the rights and benefits of the non-Moro indigenous peoples in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region under the Constitution, national laws, particularly Republic Act No. 8371, otherwise known as the ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997’”.


At Friday’s roundtable, Bacani urged IP leaders to harness the support of national government and relevant institutions like OPAPP and NCIP as they actively work towards the full implementation of IP provisions in the BOL in the region.


“Whether you like it or not, you are the symbols of inclusivity in this Bangsamoro. If you express some dissatisfaction, that will be interpreted as less than inclusive system,” Bacani said, addressing the IPs.


“You have a huge responsibility and power, but you have to use them to engage other actors. If you don’t engage, nothing will happen. My test whether this transition is successful is how strong the parliament of the Bangsamoro will emerge. It’s the parliament that is the center of power because we are under a parliamentary system. That is your place, where you should be,” he added.


Supported by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Philippines, “Usapang IP sa Bangsamoro” is a series of roundtable discussions from August to November 2019 envisioned to sustain and track the recommendations generated during the Indigenous Peoples Constitutional Assessment Tool (IPCAT) workshop held in July 2019.


IAG’s November-December 2019 issue of Policy Brief will capture the highlights of the  roundtable series.