Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ancestral Lands and Domains, Indigenous Peoples, and Other Juridical Fictions

Every nation has its creation myths...

Angela Stuart Santiago answers a number of questions I posed on her blog:
Why are Tagalogs, Pampangos, Cebuanos, Ilokanos not considered to be “indigenous peoples of the Philippines”?

Why don’t they deserve an ancestral homeland just like the Muslim Bangsamoro?

Is it because they are Christian??

– it is because the tagalogs pampangos cebuanos ilokanos largely went along with and were therefore accommodated by the colonizers, unlike the moros of mindanao who through spanish times never stopped fighting the invaders and mostly kept them away from mindanao.
however the moros were no match militarily for the americans who also treated them differently, no americanization ekek as in luzon and the visayas, and so they didn’t know what torrens titles were about, and next thing they knew their lands were no longer theirs, titled instead to settlers from luzon and visayas, and americans and multinationals of course. so yes the moros were marginalized like other indigenous communities.

if they are even more of a minority in mindanao now compared to the lumads, it’s because they’ve been leaving mindanao and looking for better lives in luzon and visayas … and yes the milf represents but one faction of the moro people, and the mnlf represents another, and there are unrepresented factions, and yes they are as divided as we christians are -

but the dream of a bangsamoro homeland lives on, something they deserve that government has tried to deny them time and again by trying to wipe them out. so this a good thing that government is finally willing to make concessions, a step in the right direction, even if malayo pa ang landas na tatahakin on both sides.
I am more than ever convinced that at the heart of the Gordian Knot that is Mindanao are unexamined Guilt Trips and several different Fairy Tales for adults, much of it abetted by Supreme Court decisions and the constant repetition of Politically Correct mantras in the Mass Media and now the blogosphere. To me it is enough of a mind-bender that the vast majority of Filipinos are not to be considered "indigenous peoples" of the Archipelago because their ancestors converted to the Roman Catholic religion.

I should immediately point out by the way that there are substantial and material implications to whether one is considered an indigenous person in the Philippines. as enunciated by Justice Reynato Puno:
"Ancestral domains and ancestral lands are the private property of indigenous peoples and do not constitute part of the land of the public domain."
The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 or the IPRA Law, survived a challenge to its Constitutionality in the Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines (SCORP) by a controversial 7-7 decision on December 6, 2000 in the landmark case of CRUZ and EUROPA versus INDIGENOUS PEOPLES. The Rules of SCORP allowed IPRA to pass by the smallest margin allowed: zero votes in a dead heat tie. (But does anyone remember WHY the Supreme Court was missing a fifteenth member in December, 2000?) En passant, this decision does not prevent future cases assailing the Constitutionality of the IPRA Law, but several general principles and battle lines may have been established that will be important in the attempts of Malacanang Palace to sign yet another "FINAL Peace Agreement" in Mindanao.

JUSTICE REYNATO PUNO wrote a highly detailed treatise (over a hundred pages) presenting the case for the seven prevailing justices, which also reveals the Guilt Trip at the heart of the Gordian Knot that is Mindanao:
J. Puno: "When Congress enacted the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), it introduced radical concepts into the Philippine legal system which appear to collide with settled constitutional and jural precepts on state ownership of land and other natural resources. The sense and subtleties of this law cannot be appreciated
without considering its distinct sociology and the labyrinths of its history. This Opinion attempts to interpret IPRA by discovering its soul shrouded by the mist of our history. After all, the IPRA was enacted by Congress not only to fulfill the constitutional mandate of protecting the indigenous cultural communities' right to their ancestral land but more importantly, to correct a grave historical injustice to our indigenous people."

On the other hand, the seven other Members of SCORP who thought IPRA unconstitutional, were represented in the Separate Concurring and Dissenting Opinion of Justice Artemio V. Panganiban.

Protection of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Must Be Within the Constitutional Framework
With due respect, however, I dissent from the ponencia’s resolution of the two main substantive issues, which constitute the core of this case. Specifically, I submit that Republic Act (RA) No. 8371, otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997, violates and contravenes the Constitution of the Philippines insofar as --
1. It recognizes or, worse, grants rights of ownership over “lands of the public domain, waters, x x x and other natural resources” which, under Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution, “are owned by the State” and “shall not be alienated.” I respectfully reject the contention that “ancestral lands and ancestral domains are not public lands and have never been owned by the State.” Such sweeping statement places substantial portions of Philippine territory outside the scope of the Philippine Constitution and beyond the collective reach of the Filipino people. As will be discussed later, these real properties constitute a third of the entire Philippine territory; and the resources, 80 percent of the nation's natural wealth.
2. It defeats, dilutes or lessens the authority of the State to oversee the “exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources,” which the Constitution expressly requires to “be under the full control and supervision of the State.”
True, our fundamental law mandates the protection of the indigenous cultural communities’ right to their ancestral lands, but such mandate is "subject to the provisions of this Constitution."[4] I concede that indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs) may be accorded preferential rights to the beneficial use of public domains, as well as priority in the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources. Such privileges, however, must be subject to the fundamental law.
Consistent with the social justice principle of giving more in law to those who have less in life, Congress in its wisdom may grant preferences and prerogatives to our marginalized brothers and sisters, subject to the irreducible caveat that the Constitution must be respected. I personally believe in according every benefit to the poor, the oppressed and the disadvantaged, in order to empower them to equally enjoy the blessings of nationhood. I cannot, however, agree to legitimize perpetual inequality of access to the nation's wealth or to stamp the Court's imprimatur on a law that offends and degrades the repository of the very authority of this Court -- the Constitution of the Philippines.

An important question that arises is: WHO ARE THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THE PHILIPPINES?

Fortunately, the IPRA law states exactly who the indigenous peoples of the Philippines are by presenting a succinct list:
Presently, Philippine indigenous peoples inhabit the interiors and mountains of Luzon, Mindanao, Mindoro, Negros, Samar, Leyte, and the Palawan and Sulu group of islands. They are composed of 110 tribes and are as follows:
1. In the Cordillera Autonomous Region-- Kankaney, Ibaloi, Bontoc, Tinggian or Itneg, Ifugao, Kalinga, Yapayao, Aeta or Agta or Pugot, and Bago of Ilocos Norte and Pangasinan; Ibanag of Isabela, Cagayan; Ilongot of Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya; Gaddang of Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Itawis of Cagayan; Ivatan of Batanes, Aeta of Cagayan, Quirino and Isabela.
2. In Region III-- Aetas.
3. In Region IV-- Dumagats of Aurora, Rizal; Remontado of Aurora, Rizal, Quezon; Alangan or Mangyan, Batangan, Buid or Buhid, Hanunuo and Iraya of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro; Tadyawan of Occidental Mindoro; Cuyonon, Palawanon, Tagbanua and Tao't bato of Palawan.
4. In Region V-- Aeta of Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur; Aeta-Abiyan, Isarog, and Kabihug of Camarines Norte; Agta, and Mayon of Camarines Sur; Itom of Albay, Cimaron of Sorsogon; and the Pullon of Masbate and Camarines Sur.
5. In Region VI-- Ati of Negros Occidental, Iloilo and Antique, Capiz; the Magahat of Negros Occidental; the Corolano and Sulod.
6. In Region VII-- Magahat of Negros Oriental and Eskaya of Bohol.
7. In Region IX-- the Badjao numbering about 192,000 in Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Sur; the Kalibugan of Basilan, the Samal, Subanon and Yakat.
8. Region X-- Numbering 1.6 million in Region X alone, the IPs are: the Banwaon, Bukidnon, Matigsalog, Talaanding of Bukidnon; the Camiguin of Camiguin Island; the Higa-unon of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon and Misamis Occidental; the Tigwahanon of Agusan del Sur, Misamis Oriental and and Misamis Occidental, the Manobo of the Agusan provinces, and the Umayamnon of Agusan and Bukidnon.
9. In Region XI-- There are about 1,774,065 IPs in Region XI. They are tribes of the Dibabaon, Mansaka of Davao del Norte; B'laan, Kalagan, Langilad, T'boli and Talaingod of Davao del Sur; Mamamanua of Surigao del Sur; Mandaya of the Surigao provinces and Davao Oriental; Manobo Blit of South Cotabato; the Mangguangon of Davao and South Cotabato; Matigsalog of Davao del Norte and Del Sur; Tagakaolo, Tasaday and Ubo of South Cotabato; and Bagobo of Davao del sur and South Cotabato.
10. In Region XII-- Ilianen, Tiruray, Maguindanao, Maranao, Tausug,

Please note that the NON-INDIGENOUS peoples of the Philippines, according to this Supreme Court decision are all the CHRISTIAN Filipinos, for example, the Ilocanos, Pampangos, Tagalogs, Cebuanos, and all of the Visayans who converted to Roman Catholicism in the 16th, 17th and 18 centuries.

ALL 110 officially designated Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines are for nominally non-Christian minorities (although Cordillera IPs were converted in large numbers to Protestant churches during the 20th and 21st centuries).

NONE of the 110 officially designated Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines come from its nominally Catholic majority populations and ethnic groups, because the qualification required of our ancestors so that some of us are now designated as "indigenous peoples" with private property rights over ancestral lands and domains, is that those ancestors of ours successfully resisted Spanish colonialization.

The officially designated IPs are all deemed to own "by native title" ancestral lands and domains, which their descendants now own. But the NON-IPs have no such lands or rights.

The difference is whether the ancestors of any given living ethnic group succumbed to Western colonialism and became Catholics or not. Those that "resisted colonialism" and did not become Catholics are the "Indigenous Peoples". Those that did have none of the rights now given to the IPs.

But it cannot be denied historically that many of the designated IPs also succumbed to colonialism and forced religious conversion. When Islam came, it was no different from when Christianity the Sword and the Cross, or the Kris and the Crescent...soldiers and missionaries. But as long as the invaders were NOT Western, that group could still be considered an Indigenous People. That is how the Supreme Court crumbles the cookie.

Basically, ALL the Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines are those that supposedly did not succumb to Western Imperialism (such as the slave-raiding slave-trading Maguindanao and Sulu Confederacies that regularly invaded and pillaged the Visayas for centuries of certain Golden Age.)

Former Senate President Franklin Drilon warns President Arroyo that signing that Memorandum of Agreement with the MILF on August 5 could constitute an impeachable offense since several provisions culpably violate the 1987 Constitution.


Pedestrian Observer GB said...

Dang DJ, this is giving me a headache.... so one is indigenous when one stayed in the mountains and those lowlanders that were Christianized are now "westernized" and therefore not indigenous. We used to be and yet we are not but we all came from the same mix of ancestry of the indigenous people and yet we are supposedly different from the IPs?

blackshama said...

To call "lowland" or more objectively Christian Filipinos as not "indigenous" is in my opinion one of the most chauvinistic terms foisted on us by political "correctness".

The colonizers were right. The Spaniards called is all "indios",irregardless of religion. The Americans drew distinctions between non-Christian and Christian Filipinos.

The only indigenous beings on our archipelago are those which biologically evolved here. Let's name a few, cloud rats,Phil. eagle, all sorts of bayawak and the mindoro croc!

DJB Rizalist said...

pogb, hahahaha. that's right! It hit me like that the first time I read the IPRA decision last year. It's one giant guilt trip, where expiation is 700 barangays and three plebiscites later.

BTW, it's more than just words. The distinction has real consequences involving private property ownership of lands and resources. In 2000, there were only 11 million IPs out of 80 million yet they supposedly own as ancestral lands and domains about a third of the territory.

The EQualizer said...

Remember Yugoslavia?

The present-day countries created from the former parts of Yugoslavia are:

* Bosnia and Herzegovina
* Croatia
* Kosovo
* Macedonia
* Montenegro
* Serbia
* Slovenia

A portent of things to come?

blackshama said...

Former parts of the Philippines?

Batangas Republic
Union of Cavite and Laguna (its university is UCLA, Union of Cavite and Laguna Academy!)
Bicol Union
Kingdom of Pampanga
Cordillera People's Republic
State of Cebu
Republic of Bohol
Republic of Negros
Federal Republic of Mindanao
Palawan Republic

Portent of things to come?

manuelbuencamino said...

This ancestral domain thing. Isn't this the basis of Israel's claim to Palestine?

Jego said...

The northern tribes of Israel, este, I mean the Philippines, are well and truly incorporated into the political construct called The Philippines. Not so the southern tribes. The northern tribes see an advantage in remaining a cohesive unit under the present government, while the southern tribes do not. In the list of tribes listed by blackshama, it could be seen that with the exception of Bicol, Palawan, and the Moros, representatives of the other tribes have actually been head of state (Bohol, I think, is part of the Cebuano republic). Bicol could have a crack at it (after Roco alsmost succeeded) in the person of Escudero.

The question remains: Why is it so terribly important to have the Moros remain part of the Philippines? Can the north survive without them? Can the south survive without the north?

danilo ignacio said...

i think we need to give justice to things, i.e. putting things in their proper order or context, discussions here seem to lose the right tract. in talking with the ancestral domain in the context of the GRP-MILF Peace Talks, (note: the geographical context is Mindanao.)we are talking of the native inhabitants of Mindanao. These are the Indigenous People and the Moros (i.e. the Islamized natives). As such, Mindanao is peopled by only two groups of people: the native inhabitants and the christian settlers. nothing else. These christian settlers are farmers from Luzon and Visayas who were dispossessed of public lands by greedy Filipino hacienderous and who replaced the 10, 000 jews the remnants of those persecuted by hitler during the holocaust who were about to be resettled in Mindanao during the presidency of Quezon. But they were instead returned to their "Promised Land" as according to the Bible. Note that what is contentious in here was that biblical passages were invoked upon these people who do not believe in the bible and who have been nurturing inveterate hatred against Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) just to justify Zionism. As such, the local Zionism of Magsaysay was instead realized through his EDCOR and settled these "local Jews" i.e. Christian settlers en masse in Mindanao since 1951. This was perhaps the main history why Mindanao was accorded "magnanimously" with the name "The Land of Promise"-a twisted version of the jews' "promised land"-and without its native inhabitants' prior consent, Mindanao was being promised instead to these Christian settlers who were disenfranchised by their own greedy kind in Luzon and Visayas. It is indeed a great wonder why today's children of these settlers are very consistent of their demand for due consultation with respect to the MILF's BJE when their forefathers' usurpation of the Moroland with the backing by their government did never pass by any due consultation that they are so fanatic of today? the Moro people do not give a damn about ilocanos, ilonggos, tagalogs, or ibalon's claim for ancestral domain right in their own homeland. that is their rightful prerogative, and such must be accorded too to the Bangsamoro who claims of ancestral domain NOT in Luzon or NOT in Visayas but in Mindanao, their considered homeland. The Moros do not say these people are not indigenous people right in their own homeland; what the say is that these people from Luzon and Visayas are not native inhabitants of Mindanao. I think this is self-explanatory that it does not take even a primary grader to easily understand it.

"The question remains: Why is it so terribly important to have the Moros remain part of the Philippines? Can the north survive without them? Can the south survive without the north?"

this is a very good question. why does the Filipino government can not let go of the Moro people and let them live their own way?the Moros (as you say) are pirates now terrorists. why the government can not simply let go of them so the Philippines shall be ultimately freed from their piracy or terrorism? Can the north survive without the south? this is the bitterest fact the government can not accept. Can the south survive without the north? You see, if the Moros did survive to the present after bearing those unbearable costs of being assimilated in the Philippines' national body-politics, the more they can survive after cutting apart the cancerous umbilical cord that artificially binds Filipinos and Moros for so long a time, to the detriment of the latter. take lesson from simon perez: "It's better to build two states and be friends than build one and become enemies the rest of our lives."

danilo ignacio said...

"The colonizers were right. The Spaniards called is all "indios",irregardless of religion."

wrong. the term "indios" and the "pintados" attached with all sorts of derogatory estimates was only designated by the Spaniards to the colonized natives of Luzon and Visayas i.e. their Christianized subjects. But the term "Moro" had been existent in the psyche of Europeans 50 years or so long before Spanish anchorage in Limasawa (see Rizal's The Indolence of the Filipinos, 1890.) Later on, it was maligned by Spaniards as pirates, bandits, devil-incarnates, etc., due to their failure to subjugate the Moros for about 300 years of continuous colonial warfares and their experience of 800 years subjugation under the Moors in Granada, Spain.

Indigenous peoples researcher said...

I would agree, religion has nothing to do with a people's indigenous status - whether they are Catholics or Muslim or Buddhist or still practice traditional ways. Country always look for ways to get out of recognizing indigenous peoples and their status - in this case religion is being used as a handy scapegoat.