The Lumad Mindanaw Peoples Federation (LMPF) started as “Lumad Mindanaw (LM) in 1980.  It was organized by progressive networks and organizations popularly known as “Tribal Filipino Support Groups”. Most of these networks were church-based: Catholic apostolates; different organizations and institutions of the Protestant’s National Council of Churches in the Philippines-NCCP; advocates of human rights, justice and peace; progressive sectoral organizations of farmers, workers, women, youth and the like. 

    One of main programs of action of LM was the “struggle for the respect of Lumad rights to self-determination (RSD).” The Lumad Peoples, being one of the most oppressed and neglected sectors, naturally identified themselves with these support groups. For a decade or two, the Lumads and their territories became bases for guerrilla fronts. Large numbers of the members of the communities became active participants both in the meta-legal and underground movement as activists, propagandists and guerilla fighters. Even to this day, about 80% of the CNN combatants, controlled territories and “hostage” communities (masa) are Lumads. 

    After a decade of existence, the Lumad leader of LM sought to put substance to the program of RSD. However, this move contradicted the CPP-NPA-NDF (CNN) ideological perspective of classifying the Lumads as primitive communal, backward and unscientific. In due course, support to LM by the CNN (CPP-NPA-NDF) organs were withdrawn. This led to the weakening and eventual cessation of the former’s existence. The Lumad leaders themselves were hounded with various threats. 

    In the final moments of LM before it was abolished, the Lumad leaders were able to draft two important documents which articulated their vision as a united people: 1) The 1994 Mul’bulan Document that called for the restructuring of Lumad Mindanaw into a confederacy of genuine self-governing tribes and communities (adopting the concept of a “Peoples Federation”- Lumad Mindanaw Peoples Federation-LMPF; 2) the La Victoria Document which called for State recognition of the Lumad People’s rights and the Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) in form of a treaty, consistent with the spirit of the 1987 Constitution that mandated the protection of the Lumads. 

    Eventually, these two documents were superseded RA 8371 (Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997) which recognizes, respects, protects and promotes the individual, as well as the inherent, collective and inalienable rights of the 14 million indigenous peoples in the country. 

    However, after more than 20 years from the approval of this landmark legislation, the full intent of IPRA remains unrealized, particularly the delineation of ancestral domain. The government, particularly the legislative body, apparently gives lesser importance to IPs as shown by its allocation of a meager budget for the NCIP. In so far as LMPF is concerned, RA 8371 is among the more important statutes of the country that priority funding support, because it seeks to benefit the poverty-stricken and centuries-long neglected beneficiaries of the IPs, and the much needed delineation of their ancestral domain. 

    This problem has been exacerbated by the fact that successive national administrations placed the RA 8371 implementing arm, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) under various departments as an attached agency. It seems that the DAR’s Certificate of Land Ownership Agreement-CLOA, and DENR’s mining and other permits, are processed and issued much faster than the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) or Certificate of Ancestral Land Title (CALT). 

    Out of the more than 30 Katawhang Lumad in Mindanao, only the Matigsalug Manobo of Bukidnon and Cotabato had its entire territory processed and awarded as CADT. The rest are still wondering how and where to secure funds in order to process the legal documents to cover their traditional territories. Meanwhile, mining corporations and other businesses aggressively and continually encroach into the land of the Lumads. This difficult situation has inevitably resulted to tension and conflict among the tri-people of Christians, Muslims and IPs.  

    To bridge the deep divide or otherwise transform conflict into cooperation, the recognition, respect and protection of the land rights of the Indigenous People (IP) has been pointed to as the just and peaceful way forward. This will certainly promote and instill peace, development and cooperation among the tri-people. It will also finally address and curb insurgency in all the Lumad territories in Mindanao. 

    Thus, the LMPF calls on the Government to place high priority for the budgetary allocation of adequate finance resources, coupled with strong implementation, to expedite the delineation of the ancestral domain of the IPs, under the concept of “One People, One Territory, One Governance” and in accordance with tribal governance based on indigenous political structures and customary law. 

    The LMPF also calls on the Government to rectify the government’s long neglect, exploitation and destruction of the lands, territories and resources of IPs, including the review and revision of wealth sharing arrangements to ensure that the Lumad Peoples are given their fair, just and equitable share in the utilization and development of natural resources found in their ancestral domain. 

    Finally, as the natural landscape of the Lumad Peoples’ homeland continues to be altered, destroyed and desecrated at an increasing pace, the LMPF strongly calls on the Government to carry out its constitutional mandate and fully protect the rights of the Indigenous Peoples to their ancestral lands, to ensure their economic, social and cultural well-being.


    18 May 2020

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