The Looming Strife of the Non-Moro Indigenous Peoples

October 1, 2021

Manobo Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao (file photo)

With the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) last July 2018 that aims to have another layer of autonomy with the national government and the formation of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in 2019 leading to the appointment of two IP representatives, how far did this law protect the Non-Moro Indigenous Peoples (NMIPs)? Did the provisions of the indigenous peoples’ rights serve its purpose of protecting the indigenous cultural communities in Mindanao?

Despite the inclusion of their rights in the above-mentioned law, the NMIPs continue to face these blocks of challenges relating to security and human rights, natural resources, and the tenurial land security particularly in the delineation of their ancestral domain. 

The signing into law of the BOL was landmark legislation that aimed to correct the historical injustices against the Moro people.

Acting strange, while this victory has been handed to the authors, principal, and supporters of this law through its first step, which is the formation of the BTC, injustices are still looming targeting the minorities in Mindanao.

With the spread of false information concerning the provisions of BOL on the ground, Moro families and clans have started to claim and occupy lands within the ancestral domains of the indigenous peoples. 

There are documented cases where Moro families show up with questionable land titles claiming certain parts of the ancestral domain. These usually led to confrontations that resulted in death and displacements. 

One year after its implementation, 11 tribal leaders of the NMIPs have been killed particularly from the indigenous political structure of the Timuay Justice and Governance that consistently led various initiatives protecting indigenous rights. 

With the issuance of the BTA Resolution No. 38, last 2019 urging the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples to cease and desist the delineation process and the proceeding for the issuance of Certificates of Ancestral Domain Title, internal strife in the Bangsamoro has further intensified.

The NMIPs fear that in the future, development projects will be implemented in their ancestral domain without getting their consent and any proper information.

With the victory of the Moro brothers through the implementation of BOL, the quote from Friedrich Nietzsche seems relatable that “whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.”

Arjay “Jing” Barrios is from a pristine island in Romblon and a graduate of bachelor of arts in political science, and currently taking up law at the Arellano University School of Law. He is passionate about issues concerning Indigenous Peoples’ rights vis-a-vis climate emergency and food sovereignty. His dedication to work brought him to road-less traveled communities to do paralegal and human rights training.

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