MANILA - Indigenous peoples and peace stakeholders are offering rituals and prayers ahead of the voting for the Bangsamoro Basic Law at the House of Representatives this week.
Members of the Teduray, one of the major tribes in the south, appealed to members of the lower House to recognize their identities in the bill.
“We have consistently and persistently articulated these, to the Peace Panel then, and now in the Congress. The panel has failed us. Now, we hope the Congress will be enlightened to hear our voices, and pass a BBL that is truly inclusive, and just. We call for the full recognition and articulation of the indigenous peoples’ rights in the BBL,” said Timuay Alim Bandara, a Teduray leader.
Bandara is one of the leaders who participated in a ritual on Sunday in front of the Batasang Pambansa. He and the others performed the Tulak Bungkas Itungan, or a ritual for enlightenment seeking divine intervention for discernment.
Different flags were waved and gongs and chants were played by the Teduray men and women. The white flag meant purity, peace; red meant blood that sustains life; green meant nature; blue meant sky; and yellow meant wisdom, etc.
“Dapat pantay na pagbalangkas ng batas, hindi maging tagapag-api ng mamayang minorya (What should be drafted and passed is a fair and just law; not a law that would discriminate against the minority population),” said Abay Rendaw Mosela, a Teduray Kemamal Keadan or Supreme Spiritual Leader who led the ritual.
“We hope that the spirits will open and bless the minds and hearts of the members of the Congress as they deliberate the draft BBL.” Mosela added.
Meanwhile, thousands of peace advocates are also expected to converge Monday for a “march for peace.”
The advocates and activists will march from St. Peter’s Parish in Commonwealth Ave. up to the House of Representatives beginning 10 a.m.
The campaign Citizens’ Action for the BBL will also take place in key cities nationwide including Davao City, Cagayan de Oro, Kidapawan, Cotabato City, and Ilo-ilo.
The groups will ask Congress not to water down the BBL.