Tribesmen clamor for voice in peace talks PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 02 April 2011 14:28

Native tribes throughout the country are calling for a stronger participation in the nation’s peace process, particularly in the ongoing negotiations with the communist groups and Moro rebels in the south.

In a resolution that capped the 2011 National Indigenous Peoples Summit recently, some 200 indigenous peoples (IPs) from 56 ethno-linguistic groups urged the government to recognize their role in the peace process.

The natives also asserted their right to self-determination, called for a review in the implementation of Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and reform of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), delivery of basic social services to communities, and protection from development aggression, human rights violations, and militarization;

“The recognition of rights of the indigenous peoples should be tackled and taken as one of the major agenda in the peace talks,” the resolution said, referring to the ongoing peace negotiations of the government with the National Democratic Front (NDF) and with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In a statement, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles, who is also the official cabinet oversight for NCIP, assured the summit participants that she will sit down with the Commission to review all the points that were raised in their three-day gathering.

Deles claimed the Aquino government guarantees “that the voices of the IPs are continuously being heard in both the negotiations with the NDF and the MILF.”

According to her, there are currently to two natives seating at the negotiating tables. Vice Mayor Ramon Piang Sr. of Upi, Maguindanao is a member of the Teduray tribe and sits in the panel for MILF talks, while Ednar Gempesaw Dayanghirang of the panel for NDF negotiations belongs to the Mandayan tribe of Davao Oriental.

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, Jr. said they are aiming to involve a larger number of IPs in consolidating an agenda and action plan, present it to different development support groups such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Labour Organization (ILO), and World Bank, as well as call for the government’s immediate action and support.

Before the national summit, a series of consultations was held in 2010 where different groups of indigenous communities and civil society organizations crafted an IP policy agenda from their most pressing issues and priorities.  This was eventually adopted in this year’s IP summit, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process said.

The Consultative Group on Indigenous Peoples spearheaded the national summit where 20 more organizations participated, including the Philippine Association for Intercultural Development (PAFID); Koalisyon ng Katutubong Samahan ng Pilipinas (KASAPI); Task Force for Indigenous People (TFIP); State of Indigenous Peoples’ Address (SIPA); Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP); Tebtebba Foundation, among others. — Darwin Wally T. Wee/Advocates Zamboanga