By Mike Kulat, CBCS Admin Officer
DANGCAGAN, Bukidnon (January 24, 2014) – Around one hundred key leaders of the Menovu and Maguindanaon tribal leaders of Southern Bukidnon and North Cotabato in an assembly tagged as Bagkes Kedsusuled Ne Kevuronan” (Assembly for Binding Brotherhood) held at the Lucky 9 Resort, Dangcagan, Bukidnon on January 14 – 16, 2014.
The assembly was jointly sponsored by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) based in Cotabato City and the Nesavaken Teraguney’t Dut Kelindaan Te Bukidnon (NATABUK Fed) base in Kibawe, Bukidnon as part of their continuing advocacy in search for peace and in support to the considered mother of all peace advocacies which is the negotiation between the Philippine Government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) or in short GPH-MILF Peace Talks.
The CBCS and NATABUK partnership in the tribal conflict interventions between the Menovu and Maguindanaon tribes in several Barangays at the provinces of Bukidnon and North Cotabato had been ongoing for a decade now starting in the year 2002. Their peace advocacy had resulted already in around ten covenants symbolizing traditional indigenous systems of conflict resolutions such as Bangon, Tamped, Bagkes, Daway, Sapa, Pamiyaya, Pamaras and such other methods practiced by their olds and that is continued to be honored in their midst until these days.
The recent assembly which is considered significant was larger in context where the delegates came from eleven (11) municipalities in the provinces of Bukidnon and North Cotabato comprising eight sub-tribes of the Menovu tribe.
The three-day affair was marked by interactions, plenary sessions and workshops in tracing and making consensus on issues that affect the relationships between the two native inhabitants of Mindanao such as the so called Moros and Lumads. The assembly’s highlight was the signing of their declaration that embodied their commitment in starting and sustaining the revival of their brotherhood and kinship which had long been severed due to the effect of divide and rule tactics applied to them by outside forces coupled with the lost of their old sacred covenants as an effect of colonization.
Among the salient content of the their declaration are their unconditional support to the ongoing GPH-MILF Peace Talks and the envisioned Bangsamoro Government as stipulated in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. It is also unexpected, being people outside of the core areas of the proposed Bangsamoro areas, to express openness and continuing discussions of their possible inclusions and their ancestral territory in the territory covered by the Bangsamoro political entity.
And most of all, the occasion also had been marked the new beginning of a new harmonious co-existence between the two native inhabitants – the Islamized and Non-Islamized aborigines of Mindanao.