Senator Joel Villanueva called for the full inclusion of the rights of the indigenous peoples (IPs) into the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law during the bicameral conference committee meeting in Pasig City.
The senator emphasized that the proposed law that will create the Bangsamoro territory should be reminded of its obligations under national law when it comes to the protection of the IP communities that will be part of the region.
According to the Senate version of the bill, “indigenous peoples shall have an equitable share from the revenues generated from the exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources that are found within the territories covered by a native, traditional, or customary title in their favor.”
It is also stipulated in the bill that “the sharing scheme shall be provided for in a law to be passed by the Bangsamoro Parliament provided that it will not diminish the rights and privileges granted to IPs by Republic Act No. 8371, or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), and other laws pertaining to indigenous peoples.”
However, in the House version, the abovementioned provision that ensures the adherence to the IPRA was not included.
“Our view is that the Senate version is consistent with what we have been earlier proposing: full inclusion of indigenous peoples’ rights into the BBL. We hope that the regional government will truly be reminded of its obligations under national law when it comes of the protection of our brothers and sisters,” Villanueva said.
With regard to the recognition of IP rights, the House version did not mention the inclusion of IPRA and the Constitution as the standard for protecting the rights and privileges of the indigenous people.
As stated in the House version, the Bangsamoro Government recognizes the rights of the indigenous peoples namely “the right to their native titles, indigenous customs and traditions, justice systems and indigenous political structures, the right to an equitable share in revenues from the utilization of resources in their ancestral lands, the right to free and prior informed consent, the right to political participation in the Bangsamoro Government, the right to basic services, and the right to freedom of choice as to their identity consistent with the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and subsisting laws on indigenous peoples in the Bangsamoro.”
Whereas in the Senate version, the same provision was stated but added an inclusion of IPRA as one of the laws that the Parliament should adhere to in the crafting of IP legislation.
In this regard, Villanueva urged for the consideration of the Senate version in reference to the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples.
“By providing a direct reference to the IPRA, we are giving Parliament a concrete standard to follow in crafting IP legislation. We do hope that this representation strongly considers the Senate version as the standpoint for this provision to ensure a BBL that is genuinely inclusive of our IPs,” the senator emphasized.
“As threshed out during the interpellations, we do recognize that our IPs have been subject to abuse and exploitation. It should be the duty of the regional government to establish mechanisms that will protect their well-being,” Villanueva said.
“I am one with our Lumad brothers and sisters in pushing for a genuinely inclusive Bangsamoro that is responsive to all indigenous people and recognizes their rights as indigenous communities. In this proposal to create a Bangsamoro territory in which they will become part of, it is essential to ensure that their ethnic identity and rights will be retained and respected,” the senator further noted.
On Monday, the House panel agreed to the provisions forwarded by Villanueva in the bicameral conference meeting.