As the bicameral conference committee finalizes the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, ANAC-IP party-list Rep. Jose Panganiban, Jr. expressed hope that peace would finally be a reality in Mindanao.
“The sooner the BBL is passed, the sooner we can work to make peace a reality in Mindanao,” Panganiban said.
The legislator said that ANAC-IP is committed to supporting the BBL because it is a way to provide non-Moro indigenous peoples an environment that is conducive to development.
The lawmaker expressed confidence that the passage of the BBL would greatly contribute to eliminating strife in Mindanao, thus addressing one of the perennial issues faced by Lumads.
The passage of the BBL would greatly contribute to eliminating strife in Mindanao, thus addressing one of the perennial issues faced by Lumads.
Violence in Mindanao has led to the displacement of vulnerable sectors such as IPs and other poor families, said Panganiban. One of the problems, he explained, is the absence of aggregate data to show exactly how many IPs are affected by conflict in the southern island.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 300,000 persons were displaced in Mindanao in 2017 due to armed conflict, clan feud, and general crime and violence.
The agency also said that the lack of evidence-based data across the island has made “invisible” a large number of at-risk and displaced communities. Five to ten million people in Mindanao do not have birth certificates, the UNHCR added, which puts them at risk of becoming stateless over generations and without access to basic services, even if displaced.
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre meanwhile pegs the number of Filipinos displaced due to armed conflict, crime, and clan violence since 2000 at about four million.
“The passage of the BBL means that we pave the way for these displaced Filipinos––many of whom are IPs that do not wish to be involved in conflict––to go back to their homes and continue their way of life,” said Panganiban.
The solon earlier lauded the bicameral conference committee for retaining provisions guaranteeing the rights of lumads.
Among the provisions on non-Moro IPs included in the BBL are representation in the Bangsamoro Council of Leaders, reserved seats in Parliament, creation of an IP office that will be part of the Bangsamoro Cabinet, and the right to freedom of choice as to their identity.
BY: ROMELO CAPARAS