Clarification on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Under BBL

Media ng Bayan Operations Center
20 April 2015

Clarification on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Under BBL (as explained by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process)

1)       The Bangsamoro identity will not be imposed on anyone. In fact, anyone can ascribe to such Bangsamoro socio-political identity. It should be underscored that ascription to the Bangsamoro identity will not provide any special privileges over the other identities. The rights of all, as enshrined in the Philippine Constitution, will be respected, and all are Filipino citizens. 

The proposed BBL in Article IX, Section 5, explicitly cited respect to the “right to freedom of choice as to their identity” if indigenous peoples. This is clear in Article II, Section 2 of the BBL, which states that “freedom of choice of other indigenous peoples shall be respected.”

Article XI of the proposed BBL guarantees respect to the basic rights of all inhabitants in the Bangsamoro. Among these rights include the right to freedom from religious, ethnic, and sectarian harassment; right to life and to inviolability of one’s person and dignity; and right to freedom and expression of religion and beliefs. 

2)       The 1987 Philippine Constitution (Article X, Section 20) confers the Bangsamoro Government, as an autonomous region, legislative powers over such matters as administrative organization and ancestral domain. The ARMM currently exercises those powers. 

However, there should be no fears regarding issues of ancestral domain. There is no truth to the claim that the Indigenous Peoples’ ancestral domain rights are not mentioned in the BBL. The BBL states in Article IX, Section 5 the following:

Indigenous People’s Rights. – The Bangsamoro Government recognizes the rights of the indigenous peoples, and shall adopt measures for the promotion and protection of their rights, the right to their native titles and/or fusaka inged, indigenous customs and traditions, justice systems and indigenous political structures, the right to an equitable share in revenues from the utilization of resources in their ancestral lands, the right to free and prior informed consent, right to political participation in the Bangsamoro Government including reserved seats for the indigenous peoples in the Bangsamoro Parliament, the right to basic services and the right to freedom of choice as to their identity.

3)      The Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act (IPRA)  is included in the Bangsamoro.   The BBL provides for an office for IPs. The IPs’ share on income from natural resources is not only one percent. The IPRA law provided that only one percent will go to the IPs. Under the BBL, it provides for “equitable share” which means higher than one percent because it says equitable. The final share will be determined by the Bangsamoro Assembly.

All national laws including IPRA are applicable to the new Bangsamoro entity, except for those inconsistent with BBL, a later law. 

For its part, the MILF posted an editorial about “BBL and IPRA” on October 2014 wherein it declared that:

While there is no direct mention of IPRA in the proposed BBL, but all the essentials elements including the four bundles of rights are in it; in fact, there are “more plus, plus.”  One such outstanding feature of the BBL which is not in the IPRA but only in the mining law is the “equitable share” entitlement of the IPs on the revenues generated from the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources that are found within territories covered by native title. Moreover, while there is no direct mention of IPRA in the proposed BBL, but all the essentials elements including the four bundles of rights are in it; in fact, there are “more plus, plus.” (
4)      Tribal laws and the justice system are upheld by the BBL, and will be so in the future Bangsamoro. The Shari’ah law will be strengthened, but will only be applied to and tapped for Muslims only. There will be no such thing as eclipse or overlap. 

According to the proposed BBL in Article X,   Section 1: Justice System in the Bangsamoro. -- The justice system in the Bangsamoro shall consist of Shari’ah law which shall have supremacy and application over Muslims only; the traditional or tribal justice system, for the indigenous peoples in the Bangsamoro; the local courts; and alternative dispute resolution systems. 

The BBL also provides in Article X, Section 23: Traditional/Tribal Justice Systems. – The Bangsamoro Parliament shall enact laws to promote and support the traditional/tribal justice systems that are appropriate for the indigenous peoples, as defined by them. The traditional justice systems are the mechanisms to determine, settle, and decide controversies and enforce decisions involving disputes between members of the indigenous peoples concerned in accordance with the tribal codes of these communities. 

In Article X,   Section 24, the BBL declares: Office for Traditional/Tribal Justice System. – There is hereby created an Office for Tribal Justice System responsible in overseeing the study, preservation and development of the tribal justice system within the Bangsamoro. The powers and functions of the Office shall be defined by the Bangsamoro Parliament. 

The Office shall ensure the full participation of indigenous peoples in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of policies related to the strengthening of tribal justice system; ensuring further that such systems maintain their indigenous character in accordance with the respective practices of each tribe. 

The BBL also states in Article XI ,  Section 18: Indigenous Structure. - The Bangsamoro Government shall recognize indigenous structures or systems which promote peace, and law and order. The Bangsamoro Parliament shall provide institutional support to these structures and systems to enhance peace and security in the Bangsamoro.


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