November 21, 2023. A measure proposing a comprehensive Indigenous Peoples Code in the BARMM Region in support of the priority agenda of Chief Minister Murad Ibrahim, BARMM Region

Mr. Guiamel M. Alim – Chairperson of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society Organization (CBCS) and MP Marry Ann M. Arnado, BTA Member, facilitated the said event and successfully achieved the objectives of increasing the level of participation of IP leaders in pushing the IP rights, enhancing and clarifying issues of the draft IP code, and gaining more knowledge and understanding of the IP rights.

The majority of the top key IP leaders in the BARMM region met together for the enhancement, updating, consensus building, and review of the proposed IP bill in the BTA-BARMM region and to ensure the unified IP code is passed into law.

Among the contentious discussions are on IP Identity, the Non-Moro Indigenous People (NMIP), Territory, Ancestral Domain (Mapping the remaining actual coverage areas), and Managing the IP Political Structure (IPS).

The chairperson of CBCS, Guiamel M. Alim, in his welcome remarks speech “We are here today to improve better time, we just remember the struggle of the Moro people that in every failed experiment is one step towards to success, they did a lot of experiment to make them strong”. He also added in his speech that “It is in our hands now how to make ourselves strong and is exactly what I see today.”

MP Mary Ann M. Arnado presented the draft Indigenous People Code for enhancement on those contentious issues. MP Arnado also proposed the Fusaka Inged Development Authority Structure (FIDAS) instead of IPS to accommodate some other tribes. FIDAS has an important role in the revenue or collection management from the exploitation of the natural resources within the ancestral domain.

Minister Melanio U. Ulama of MIPA said, “I am happy today because there is a tribal representative attending this activity like we have here in Lambangian, or “Baleg” Arumanen Menuvu, Higaonon, Dulangan Manobo, Teduray, and we are not alone because Moro and Christian settlers are always in solidarity with the IPs. So I could suggest that we need 50 percent for the traditional mind and we also need 50 percent for the mainstream legal mind.”

MP Ramon A. Piang, Sr., the author of the IP code, said, “We are here today to understand each other; we should forget our personal, but we should be one for the IP code to benefit our constituents on the ground.”

MP Froilyn T. Mendoza expresses her sentiment that she cannot sleep well because she always thinks about what could be the best idea for the IP leaders to get into a consensual IP code.

The agreed points are the following:

A consensual draft of the IP code version has already been agreed upon by the body and the final messaging of the draft before filing will be taken care of by the legal representatives from MIPA and Offices of MP Mendoza, MP Piang, and MP Arnado;

The final draft IP code will be submitted to the Office of Minister Melanio U. Ulama, for filing to the Cabinet by December 2023; by then, he will file

This final draft may appear as government-sponsored of the day, chaired by MP Ramon A. Piang Sr., with the strong support of other MP champions.

This historical event for CBCS was witnessed by MP Atty. Mary Ann M. Arnado, who again helped facilitate this important activity, turned her genuine commitment to helping with the final draft of the IP code. On behalf of the CBCS counterpart as host of the activity, Mr. Guiamel M. Alim, Chairperson, is very much inspired by this succeeding development for the indigenous leaders to come together and work hand in hand for a common goal, regardless of any affiliation, just to come to participate in decision-making.

The CBCS-Forward Bangsamoro Project also acknowledges the full support of different stakeholders in the enhancement and immediate passage of the IP Code in the BTA-BARMM.

By: Hilario Tanzo and Adzahar Pendatun