MANILA — UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz will spearhead reviewing Senate local government committee chairperson Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s proposed substitute for the Malacanang-backed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) bill.
She assured undertaking such action to see if such substitute upholds rights of indigenous peoples (IPs) in the target Bangsamoro area.
“I’ll study if his proposal adheres to UN’s Declaration on the Rights of IPs,” she said Tuesday (Aug. 11) in Metro Manila during a press conference for the 2015 State of Indigenous Peoples Address (SIPA).
The bill must be screened also for adherence to RA 8371 (IP Rights’ Act of 1997 or IPRA) which upholds rights of IPs nationwide, she continued.
“Equal recognition of IPs’ rights must be included in such bill so they won’t be second-class citizens in Bangsamoro territory,” she said.
She noted Marcos’ proposal merits support if his substitute bill adheres to the Declaration and RA 8371.
Adopted by UN’s General Assembly in September 2007, the Declaration establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, well-being and rights of IPs worldwide.
The Philippines was among 144 States that favored the Declaration.
Such warrants government action that truly upholds IPs’ rights, noted Tauli-Corpuz who’s from the Kankana-ey IP group in Mt. Province’s Besao municipality.
Marcos filed this week the committee report containing his proposed substitute for BBL.
He noted such substitute bill “can and will stand constitutional challenges” as well as “establish a strong mechanism for peace in Mindanao.”
Among concerns raised in this year’s SIPA is protection of IPs’ rights amid government-Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace negotiations and both parties’ bid for enactment of BBL.
“We recognize and support the struggle of our Moro brothers and sisters for peace and against oppression and historical injustice,” IPs said in SIPA. “However, we are victims of a conflict which isn’t ours. We’re caught in the crossfire between government armed forces and MILF because our ancestral domains are the unwilling hosts of armed conflicts.”
IPs emphasized in SIPA they want BBL’s full coverage of their rights.
They want recognition of their identities as non-Moro IPs and the right not to identify themselves as Bangsamoro.
“BBL must recognize our immediate enforceable right to give or withhold consent to entry of any project into our territories as well as our right to benefit from operation of such projects,” IPs also said in SIPA.
SIPA likewise noted BBL must recognize and provide clear mechanism for titling respective ancestral domains within the proposed Bangsamoro territory.
“We also want full implementation of IPRA,” Teduray IP community leader Jenevie Cornelio said at the press conference.
IPRA hasn’t been implemented for 18 years in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), she reported.
ARMM includes Maguindanao province which covers South Upimunicipality, the location of her IP community.
“We’re at the heart of the target Bangsamoro territory,” she noted.
Such territory aims replacing ARMM through BBL.
Earlier, Marcos described his substitute bill as an all-inclusive measure reflecting applicable advocacies, stand and proposals of stakeholders concerned.
To come up with such bill, he reported first completing 12 public hearings – some in Mindanao – as well as one briefing and two separate hearings of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes.
The bill has features “we deemed necessary so it will be accepted by people and will lay the groundwork for peace in Mindanao,” he added.