On May 31, the Philippine Congress passed the Bangsamoro Basic Law, marking an important step in the ongoing Mindanao peace process. Indigenous leaders, supported by the Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement (MPPM) through an Influencing grant, have successfully lobbied members of Congress to include provisions that would protect the rights of indigenous peoples. Some of these include:
- freedom to retain their distinct indigenous and ethnic identity
- recognition and promotion of rights of indigenous peoples under existing laws, the current constitution, and international conventions
- recognition of rights over natural resources under their ancestral domains.
Not all of their demands have been accepted. Notably, requirements for free, prior, and informed consent are left out.
The work of indigenous leaders are not yet complete. The House of Representatives and the Senate are now in a bicameral conference to negotiate the differences between their separate versions. There is a danger that provisions related to indigenous peoples' rights could be removed. Indigenous leaders continue to be engaged in the process, lobbying to retain and enhance the key provisions affecting them. They call on both houses of Congress to recognise the bundle of rights defined in the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act (RA 8371), without which could make indigenous peoples vulnerable in the proposed Bangsamoro region.
For more information, read their most recent press release: Lumad leaders express hope that the bicameral conference will yield an inclusive BBL that reconizes IP rights (Thursday, 12 JUL 2018).
For continuing updates on their lobbying efforts, follow Loyukan on facebook.
Cover photo from Loyukan.