‘Framework agreement, positive development for us Lumad, too”

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/15 October) The indigenous peoples of Mindanao welcomed the signing of the framework peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Talaandig Datu Migketay Victorino Saway told Bukidnon News Monday.

Saway, who belonged to the Mindanao People’s Caucus, a group of people’s organizations from Lumad and Moro tribes in Mindanao said the IPs also benefit from the agreement.

“This is positive development for us.  It has expanded the vision of lasting peace in Mindanao,” he said via telephone from Malacanang.

That is was signed in front of all those dignitaries and witnesses, he added, makes it sound more real.

Saway, one of the members of the council of elders of tribes from Mindanao who witnessed the signing in Malacañang today, said they no longer pursue their assertion for representatives from the indigenous peoples in the panels of the peace process.

With the long years of hard work of the panels, he said, they decided not to battle for IP representation anymore.

“It makes the talks more complicated,” he added.

He said all stakeholders know that the role of the IP communities couldn’t be discounted in the on-going peace process.

“That’s why we saw it ahead to put up a mechanism to avoid the worst from happening,” he said.

Saway cited the reaffirmation of kinship between the Moro-IP in Mindanao, which was held in March 2012 in Songco, Lantapan, Bukidnon.

He said that in the reaffirmation, Moro and IP leaders refreshed the kinship and vowed to respect traditional agreements between Moro and IP leaders in the past.

Saway said without the mechanism, which promoted mutual recognition and respect, the IPs would be caught at the crossfire or will be left out.

Provincial board member Manuel Dinlayan, from the Bukidnon tribe who headed the IP committee at the Bukidnon Sangguniang Panlalawigan also welcomed the signing of the framework agreement in his opening remarks at opening of Bukidnon’s first-ever IP congress today.

On March 8, 2012, representatives of eight Moro tribes and most of the Lumad or non-Islamized tribes in Mindanao signed a five-point kinship covenant in a gathering in Songco, Lantapan, Bukidnon.

The gathering was filled with festive remembrance of historical relationships and aspirations for peace and unity in the island.

Aside from signing the covenant, the participants also unveiled the monument marking the reaffirmation of their kinship, an event witnessed among others by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panel and the International Monitoring Team.

The covenant, printed on white paper and etched in a plaque installed on the monument, cited mutual recognition and respect (kilalaha), mutual sharing of information (sayuda), cooperation (buliga), mutual protection and preservation of life (uyaga), and mutual obligation to help the needy (pagbatunbatuna).

“The indigenous peoples and the Moro of Mindanao hereby acknowledge the following principles and doctrines of kinship as basis of their cooperation, understanding, and unity as descendants of the early inhabitants in the island of Mindanao,” the declaration stated.

Before signing the covenant Lumad and Moro leaders exchanged accounts of shared history passed on for generations, mostly recalling a past that belonged to “one blood.” Their accounts differed in some respects but all of them cited peace pacts. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)