SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: Various indigenous peoples (IP) groups in Mindanao have called for an end to the killings of lumad, after the murder of the chief of the B’laan tribe in Norala, South Cotabato last week.
Chief Insp. Conrado Jovero Jr., Norala town police chief, identified the slain indigenous peoples’ leader as Venie Diamante, 43, of Sitio Lambusong, Barangay Puti in Norala.
Initial investigation showed that Diamante, Norala’s tribal chief, was heading for home on board a motorcycle when he was shot by unidentified gunmen for unknown reasons.
He sustained multiple gunshot wounds in the body and investigators recovered five empty shells for caliber 45 pistol from the crime scene.
The Philippine National Police (PNP)–South Cotabato is yet to determine the motive for the killing.
The IPs in Mindanao are composed of 18 ethno-linguistic groups, including the B’laan, Higaonon, Manobo and Subanon people.
They are considered among the poorest despite their ancestral lands being some of the most fertile in the region.
For years, the IPs have been fighting an uphill battle for control of their ancestral territories against corporate encroachment, plunder and militarization.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) has encouraged the IPs leaders to form an advisory council that will aid the peace process with different rebel groups in tackling various IP concerns.
Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, during an IP peace table conversation held recently in Midsayap, North Cotabato, said the indigenous peoples themselves know best the situations in their localities.
The advisory council will provide voices and assure key roles for the so-called “national minorities” in the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front and the implementation of Bangsamoro agreements with the Moro fronts.
Dureza said the creation of an IP advisory council is a guarantee for a more inclusive and transparent peace process under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
He assured the indigenous groups of representation in the new and expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which will draft the enabling law for implementation of all Bangsamoro peace deals and other pertinent measures including the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997.