SOME 600 from different tribes are expected to converge for the 7th Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Convention on August 29 to 31 at Felis Resort Complex, Matina, Davao City to come up with a unified stand in securing their position when the new system of governance will be implemented.
Speaking in Kapehan sa Dabaw media forum on Monday, August 21, at The Annex of SM City Davao, event chairperson Datu Joel Unad said the convention is geared to assert their rights for their ancestral domain if Federalism will push through nationwide under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
"The tribes have their assertion in the four bundles of rights: rights of governance, ancestral domain, justice system and ecological balance. These are needed if there are changes in the constitution, these should not be eradicated," Unad said.
Currently, he said that there are 18 major tribes present in Mindanao.
The four-day activity, which is anchored on the theme "Understanding and Embracing Challenges with Peace and Development in the Coming Age of Federalism", will also be used as a platform to mainstream the rights of the IPs and address the challenges confronting them.
It also aims to reassess the government's program for IPs in terms of peace and security, agriculture, development, culture and education, among others, and raise recommendations for further improvements in their crusade to preserve their cultural heritage while embracing economic opportunities to communities.
Unad said several government agencies will be present during the activity like the National Commission on Indigenous People, Mindanao Development Authority, Office of the Presidential Peace Adviser on Peace Process, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
They also invited the Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Department of Tourism, National Culture and the Arts, Department of Education and Department of Public Works and Highways.
He, likewise, said they wanted to help tribes who have concerns with the Bangsamoro Basic Law which is now under review of the congress.
The result of the consultation will be recommended to the Opapp as they will also hold Mindanao Indigenous People Legislative Assembly of the Bangsamoro Basic Law on August 29 to September 1 at Mergrande Ocean Resort.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on August 22, 2017.
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