• Maguindanao tribesmen urged to return

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY: Maguindanao tribesmen who left their ancestral land in Mount Firis due to the outbreak of Muslim rebellion for more than four decades were told to come home.

    Leader Timuay Melanio Ula–ma, now a member of the Bang–samoro Transition Commission, said it is time for the tribesmen to return to their own domain because there is now peace in Mindanao following the signing of a political deal between the Aquino government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

    The Comprehensive Agreement of Bangsamoro signed by peace negotiators in March will pave the way for the creation of a new autonomous region which will be home to Muslim, Christian and the indigenous tribes in Mindanao. The new region will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao comprised of Ba–silan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, including the cities of Lamitan and Marawi.

    In a ceremony held in the town of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Ulama, who also heads the Organization of Teduray and Lambangian Conference, said the peace agreement would bring fresh hope not only to his tribe, but to Muslims and Christians, to live in unity and peace and work together for the development of the Bangsamoro region and its people.

    Mohagher Iqbal, the MILF vice chairman and chief peace negotiator, said under the new Bangsamoro law, all sectors of the society will be represented because it promotes representation of women, indigenous peoples, settlers and the youth “as these will have their respective seats in the Bang–samoro Parliament.”

    The Teduray tribe covered more than 10,000 hectares in Mount Firis, but the rebellion forced them to flee from their ancestral domain.

    Iqbal, who is also the chairman of the 15-member Bang–samoro Transition Commission, ensured the inclusion of concerns of the indigenous people in the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law they submitted to President Benigno Aquino 3rd in April.

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