filipinos in japan – true stories / BBL will displace lumads in ARMM

eastwind journals 138
By Bernie Lopez, columnist Philippine Daily Inquirer
Permission is granted to re-publish with credits and notification.
Disclaimer – the views in this article are those of the author’s alone.


FILIPINOS IN JAPAN True Stories – inquirer

Three heart-rending true stories of Filipinos in Japan.


In an exclusive interview, Jimid Mansayagan, Chair of the Lumad Mindanaw Peoples Federation (LMPF), which has about 8-million members Mindanao-wide, expresses concern that the Bangsamo Basic Law (BBL) would result in the displacement of 3 Lumad groups numbering 123,000* within the ARMM. (* according to the Institute for Autonomy and Governance or IAG.)


The LMPF plea is for the BBL to respect the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and to recognize the inalienable rights of Lumads. The BBL has no such provisions. The fear of the LMPF is – once the ARMM becomes a ‘territory’ of the Bangsamoro Government, what happens to the ancestral domain of three largest Lumad groups in ARMM – the Tendurays, Lambangians, and Dulangan Manobos, consisting of13 ethnic groups in 80 barangays of 12 municipalities, identified as the ‘ARMM Core Territory’.


The ARMM has a population of 3.9 million as of 2014 (NCSO projection, actual is 3.2 million as of 2010). Its complex demographics, a mix of many ethnic groups, is elusive because NCSO has no ethnic breakdown of Muslims, Christians, and Lumads. The number of Lumads is estimated at 500,000 by the IP DEV Project, which constitute a sizable 12.8%, needing recognition by the BBL as a key player.


In spite of many dialogues between the LMPF and Peace Panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, no action is being taken. Both sides of the Panel, the government and the MILF, are ignoring the Lumad pleas. The verbal assurances from MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim that the Bangsamoro Government and the MILF will not oppress the Lumads, are useless. (Minda News Aug. 8, 2014) It must be put into the law to be effective. LMPF wrote President Aquino, but no audience, no reply.


In the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro of January 13, 2013, the LMPF Governing Council asserts, “It is unthinkable that by averring the inherent, inalienable and collective rights to territory and governance as distinct peoples is perceived as against those that should be given to the Bangsamoro, or demanding it from the Bangsamoro. People to people relationship shall depend on tradition and the principle of mutual respect and co-existence. We are neither requesting special treatment nor seeking attention, but only reminding all parties concerned of rights already granted by law.” The Lumads are not envious of the tons of goodies the Government will heap upon Bangsamoro. They just want their inalienable rights respected.




The basic flaw in the concept of autonomy is it induces separatism, and discourages co-existence. Communities are separate and distinct, instead of integrated and whole. The Christian majority, if discouraged to enter Muslim ‘territory’, can actually induce wars. There must be free movement of people.


The motive of government to grant autonomy is to discourage rebellion, which is not good for its image. Ironically, autonomy, if it induces conflicts, will make the government image worse. Autonomy induces special treatment and jealousy.




President Aquino has been fast-tracking the peace process because he wants that under his legacy before he steps down, the image motive. Unfortunately, fast-tracking will make the BBL a useless, inadequate, irrelevant, and dangerous law, a blunder that may actually induce war. The present BBL is a knee-jerk papogi (PR) move of Malacanang, whose effects are dangerously unknown.




Former Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza says the BBL is inherently unconstitutional. LMPF says the BBL contradicts the IPRA, and IPRA itself is a peace agreement. Last October 14, 2008, the Supreme Court rendered as unconstitutional the deal between the Government and the MILF. Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales ruled that the Peace Panel Chair ‘committed grave abuse of discretion’ by failing to conduct consultation as mandated by EO 3, RA 7160, and RA 8371. The ‘furtive process’ was branded as ‘whimsical, capricious, oppressive, arbitrary, and despotic’. (Wikipedia). The BBL may have the same fate when brought to the Supreme Court.




The Lumads have reason to fear dislocation from ancestral lands. A Norwegian Refugee Council Report says when the Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that a peace agreement giving the MILF control over 700 areas in Southern Mindanao was unconstitutional, fighting broke out which displaced 700,000 Christians, Lumads, and Muslims. This is how peace talks bring war.


Can BBL funds and arms end up with terror groups?


The BBL should pass through three critical processes. First is an updated population survey in proposed BBL areas complete with ethnic delineations. The BBL has added a lot of new areas. Second is a referendum to see if the people, even the Muslims, really want BBL governance. Will the minority Christians and Lumads accept BBL governance? If they don’t and the BBL is forced down their throat, will there be a resurrection of the Ilagas?


Third is an in-depth study by a commission on the complex ramifications of the BBL. Todate, there is no such study. In August 6, 2008, Senators accused Malacanang of failing to make MILF cut ties with terror networks such as Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf (now also ISIS). Will Bangsamoro funds and arms end up in the hands of terror groups.




Lumad ancestral lands have been shrinking rapidly in the last decade, under extreme pressures from powerful forces, agribusiness and mining multinationals in partnership with locals, which bring in the military to protect themselves from the NPA. Big-time farming and mining attract wars. Pro-AFP Lumads end up fighting pro-NPA Lumads. They are the pawns who are massacred. The massacres of Lumads is appalling, especially in Caraga, Region XIII, Agusan Norte/Sur, Surigao Norte/Sur, Davao Norte, and Compostella Valley. The Lumads have nowhere to go. They are the dying pure ethnic Filipinos who may become extinct soon.


By Bernie Lopez, Columnist, Philippine Daily Inquirer
See Inquirer version of this article –


the more you take
the less you have
the poorer you are
the more you give
the more you have
the richer you are




peace is not inherent to our spirit
it has to be acquired
we must work hard for it


from the book – wings and wanderlust


life is an opportunity, benefit from it
life is beauty, admire it
life is a dream, realize it
life is a challenge, meet it
life is a duty, complete it
life is a game, play it
life is a promise, fulfill it
life is sorrow, overcome it
life is a song, sing it
life is a struggle, accept it
life is a tragedy, confront it
life is an adventure, dare it
life is luck, make it
life is life, fight for it

Mother Teresa


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