Land distribution a 'critical issue' among Bangsamoro plebiscite voters: think tank

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 21 2018 12:43 PM

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MANILA - Land distribution in the Bangsamoro is one of the most "critical issues" local groups and indigenous tribes are considering a month before the they cast their votes in a plebiscite that would determine the region's autonomy, a think tank said Friday.

Under the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the cadastration of land, the allocation of ancestral lands and the designation of public lands will be determined by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority that will be headed by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Murad Ebrahim.

"There are certain concerns of indigenous peoples groups about land that is being contested by Maguindanaoan settlers who left during the height of war against the Ilagas in the 1960s and 1970s and they might want to go back to reclaim their land," Francisco Lara, senior adviser of the peace advocacy group International Alert, told ANC's Early Edition.

"They have to reassure people, assuage those concerns with the indigenous peoples," Lara said.

"The MILF will have to show that it will be very fair in determining, conducting the cadastral surveys," he said.

The MILF can allay land grabbing fears by assuring that "all issues will be adjudicated fairly in a public court where everyone is properly represented," the think tank member said.

"If the MILF wants peace, it should favor status quo, people who are currently tilling the land, rather then permitting the entry of new claimants from years ago," he said.

Some of the highly contested areas in the Bangsamoro region are located in the areas of North Upi, South Upi, the Iranon Corridor, areas of Mamasapano and Sultan sa Barongis, he said.