Timuoys Urge Approval of Their Ancestral Domain Petitions

THE leaders of Subanon communities in the Zamboanga Peninsula have urged the city government of Zamboanga and the Zamboanga Freeport and Economic Zone Authority (Ecozone) to “recognize and respect the ancestral domain claim of the Subanon people in Labuan, Patalon and Limpapa barangays, Zamboanga City, to which they have a definite native title.”

The appeal is contained in a statement drafted by over 30 timuoy (tribal chiefs) and other leaders including women at the end of a daylong assembly held at the Carlos Dominguez Hall of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) on Saturday, December 1.

“We exhort all concerned government agencies, particularly the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), to respect all our claims for ancestral domain and to, thereby, facilitate and hasten the grant of pending and future petitions for Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles”, the Subanon leaders further said in their manifesto. Two months ago, NCIP stopped the processing of the long pending application of Subanons residing as farmers in the uplands of Labuan, Patalon and Limpapa barangays. The moratorium came after the city government and Ecozone formally protested against the tribesmen’s ancestral claims.

The regional assembly, called in Subanon as Glumpuk nog Kobogolalanan Sog Pigsungan Nog Nawan (Assembly of Tribal Traditional Leaders of Zamboanga Peninsula), was organized by the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRMSP), Peace Advocates Zamboanga, Catholic Relief Service, and ADZU’s Institute for Western Mindanao Cultural Studies. It was held in celebration of the ongoing Mindanao Week of Peace 2007 from November 29 – December 5. It is marking its 10th anniversary, too.

Along the same issue of ancestral domain, the Subanon leaders also objected to the proposed inclusion of portions of their communities under the authority of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. This plan is part of the proposed peace settlement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Their statement further said: “We call on the Republic of the Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in their ongoing peace negotiation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to respect the ethnic and historical rights of the Subanons on all lands in Zamboanga Peninsula and to, therefore, exclude our communities from inclusion as ancestral lands to be placed under or included in the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity as contemplated in the proposed peace agreement.”

Timuoy Fernando Mudai, program management coordinator of Pigsolobukan Bansa Subanon, an NGO, warned the assembly that Subanons will in the end lose their indigenous identity if they allow the tribe to be placed under any Bangsamoro government. “We were and are never a Bangsamoro people”, he emphasized.

Timuoy Noval Lambo, head (gulang) of the Gukom Sog Pito Kodolungan (the Subanon’s regional federation in the Zamboanga Peninsula), gave a talk about the tribe’s historical relations with other peoples.

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