Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Atty. Montessa offers a simplified form of the MOA on Ancestral Domain

By the GRP-MILF MOA on ancestral domain, according to Atty. Camilo Miguel Montesa, Executive Director of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG), the Philippine government agrees to:

- Recognize the Bangsamoro people as “distinct from the rest of the national communities;”
- Grant the Bangsamoro people their own “distinct territory;”
- Grant the Bangsamoro pople their own “government;” and,
- Concede international recognition to the Bangsamoro people.

Who are the Bangsamoro?

The Bangsamoro people refer to “those who are natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and its adjacent islands including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization and their descendants whether mixed or full native blood.”

Spouses and descendants, including the Lumads, he said, are also classified as Bangsamoro “unless they choose otherwise.”

“They are the ‘First Nation’ with defined territory and with a system of government having entered into treaties of amity and commerce with foreign nations,” Montesa said.

Bangsamoro territory

Under the MOA, the Bangsamoro territory comprises the following areas:

- the present Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM);
- the municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan, and Tangkal in the province of Lanao del Norte, which voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite;
- additional geographic areas in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte, and North Cotobato, “subject to plebiscite.”

Montesa said that under the MOA, the Bangsamoro homeland did “not form part of the public domain.” Thus, it is “not within the jurisdiction of the Philippine government.”

The Bangsamoro homeland, he added, “encompasses ancestral communal and customary lands, maritime, fluvial and alluvial domains as well as all natural resources therein that have inured or vested ancestral rights on the basis of native title.”

Bangsamoro government

The Bangsamoro territory will be governed by the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE).

Montesa said the “relationship between the Philippine government and the BJE shall be associative characterized by shared authority and responsibility with a structure of governance based on executive, legislative, judicial and administrative institutions with defined powers and functions.” It is also empowered to create and raise its own police and internal security force.

The BJE’s purpose is to “establish a system of governance suitable and acceptable to the Bangsamoro as a distinct dominant people.”

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