Sunday, December 19, 2010


Written by Mike G. Kulat
Monday, 20 December 2010 06:29

We, the undersigned Civil Society Organizations and Community leaders of Moro-Indigenous Peoples gathered at Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, hereby declare and manifest our STRONG OPPOSITION TO THE CONSTRUCTION OF PULANGI DAM V because it will destroy our much-valued ancestral domain and heritage from our ancestors that are the foundations of our unique identity since time immemorial.

That we hereby declare this opposition to the construction of the Pulangi Mega Dam V on the following grounds, to wit:
1. That construction of the Pulangi Dam V will submerge 22 barangays and communities of the Moro-Indigenous Peoples located upstream of the proposed site of the dam;

2. That eventually the Burial site of Apu Mamalu with all other burial grounds, the sacred places, hunting grounds, and heritage sites of both our ancestors and contemporary generations will be inundated by the Pulangi Dam V, thereby forever erasing our identity as indigenous and cultural communities;

3. That the Pulangi Dam V construction will lead to the physical, economic, political and cultural displacement of all the Moro-Indigenous Peoples who are residents of the barangays and villages both upstream and downstream of the dam site;

4. Thus, Pulangi Dam V will engrave and eventually end the history of harmonious relationships, peaceful co-existence and blood-brotherhood of the Menuvo and Maguindanaon tribes as both indigenous along the Pulangi stretch for so long a time in the past.

5. That on the downstream of the proposed Pulangi Dam V, the lives and living condition of around 1,094,170 Moro, Indigenous Peoples and Settlers (*2000 Census) living in 27 municipalities in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, Maguindanao and the city of Cotabato will be adversely affected;

6. That the Ligawasan Marsh, notwithstanding that it was declared as a “Game Refuge and Birds Sanctuary” since 1941 and as part of National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) under RA#7586, is also a repository of Moro culture and heritage;

7. That the construction of the Pulangi Dam V will eventually destroy the Pulangi River which is the only tributary supplying water to the Ligawasan Marsh;

8. That ruining the flow of the Pulangi River will endanger the Ligawasan Marsh of being drained thereby its significant heritage as well as economic value to the Maguindanaon tribes will be lost forever;

9. And finally, the construction of the Pulangi Dam V, when pushed through, is a blatant violation of the rights of the Moro and Indigenous Peoples affected as inscribed in both domestic and international laws such as but not limited to basic human rights laws, Bill of Rights of the Philippine Constitution, RA#7586, RA#8371 (IPRA Law), UNDRIP Declarations and other instruments.

Now, let it be declared further, this day henceforth as the start of the symbolic revival of UNITY, BROTHERHOOD AND COOPERATION between Moro and Indigenous Peoples to relentlessly pursue all available legal and peaceful means to oppose the construction of Pulangi Dam V and other form of development aggression within our ancestral domain.

That in pursuit of our desire to protect our identity, culture and ancestral domain, we are cognizant of the important role of “support groups” as we welcome others both within and without who sympathize with our plight as cultural minorities.

Signed this 30th day of August 2010 at Crossing Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao province in the Island of Mindanao, South of the Philippines.


Chairperson,NATABUK Federation Inc.

Chairman CBCS – Kutawato Regional
Management Committee

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


PEACEBUILDING: Its Contextual Application Base on Experiences

[This program is undertaken under the Peacebuilding and Development Program of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society headed by Mike G. Kulat as Project Coordinator]

I – Background:

The Mindanao land had been marred by war and armed conflict since the arrival of the Spaniards, Japanese and American invaders and colonial forces starting in 1521 as well as the succeeding administrations under the Philippine Government.

Pages of history books are not sufficient in the transcriptions of long sufferings and agonies of its people who were directly affected by this wars and conflicts.

In contemporary eras, during the ILAGA turmoil in the late 60s, followed by the Martial Law disarray, both governmental and non-governmental records varies from one hundred sixty thousand (160, 000) to two hundred forty thousand (240, 000) lives were either lost or died, maimed and or missing as a consequence of armed confrontations, massacres, tortures and summary killings. Moreover, there was no record of exact figure of displacements; however we can safely conclude that 90% of the Native Inhabitants of Mindanao had a taste of abandoning their homelands including some Settlers in the epicenters and immediate peripheries of war areas.

These conflicts dragged on to wars between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1973 that lasted until late 1976 when the MNLF signed the Tripoli Agreement that lead to the GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement after twenty years (September 2, 1996).

The struggle of the Bangsamoro for freedom and right to self-determination was continued on by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that sow wider armed confrontations and more serious impacts on the lives of the civilians. Notable among these wars were the 1997 MALMAR war, the 2000 all-Out War of ERAP administration that displaced more than 740,000 individuals and the 2003 “Buliok War or All-Out Military Offensive’ of the Arroyo Administration that displaced more than 203,000 civilians and the death of one hundred seventeen (117) mostly children, women and elders in different evacuation centers. The account of deaths of non-combatants in evacuation center had been recorded coming from the municipalities of Pikit, North Cotabato and Pagalungan and Datu Montawal in Maguindanao province, excluding those in Lanao and Zamboanga del Sur provinces where the war escalated.

In all of the above miseries, notwithstanding unaccounted damages to billions and billions of properties every time war erupts. More importantly, these wars happened despite of the 1996 GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement and the emplacement of the Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities signed between the GRP and MILF Representatives on July 18, 1997 at Cagayan de Oro City.

As a result of these unending wars, countless efforts on the ground had been initiated by both governmental and non-governmental agencies, international, national and local entities in order to appease the sad plight of the civilians. They endeavored in terms of peace and development programs in conflict-affected areas.

These gave birth to the flooding of peace and development theories, frameworks and strategies mostly patterned from outside settings and from different parts of the world and or designed by people outside of conflict-affected areas of Mindanao. More often, as a consequence, it did not cater to the needs and problem of the people rather add confusion to the already messy situation. Of course, we admit that different endeavors had their short term impact; nevertheless, it brings about demobilization and reintegration of communities’ own systems rather than strengthening and harnessing values, cultures and indigenous systems of the affected communities.

The efforts, social and physical assistance, peace and developmental works usually had been confined at the war epicenters. Unknown to the many is the continuing sufferings of great numbers of IDPs out side of war epicenters or as peripheral effects of war. This was the situation in the remote villages or communities in the boundaries of North Cotabato and Bukidnon provinces. That aside from being neglected of social and physical reconstruction, they are sustaining every big wars between Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) into tribal or ethnic conflicts especially between the Maguindanaon and the Menuvo tribes in the area.

It is at this juncture, the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) ventured to start a Peacebuilding program that the communities could proudly call their own. It is a daring step but other says, “there is no harm in trying.”

[First of a Series]

Sunday, December 12, 2010



[Editor’s note: This position paper in support to the GRP-MILF Peace Talks was formulated and signed by fifty one Officers and Council of Elders of the Organization of Teduray, Lambangian and Dulangen-Manubo Conference (OTLAC) and was conferred and affirmed by around two thousand tribal members in a general assembly held for the purpose at the Municipal Gymnasium of the Municipality of Upi, Maguindanao on November 19, 2010]

We, the Non-Islamized Indigenous Peoples (LUMAD) of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and portion of Sultan Kudarat Province have convened our selves to formulate a Position Paper, Agenda and Demands relative to the forthcoming GRP-MILF Peace Negotiations on Bangsamoro Homeland and Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) under the new administration of the Republic of the Philippines; His Excellency President Benigno Semion Cojuangco Aquino III;

That as indigenous inhabitants of ARMM and Sultan Kudarat Province, the issue on Bangsamoro Homeland and Bangsamoro Juridical Entity clearly and adversely affect our distinct historic rights to ancestral domains/lands and territories;

That as indigenous peoples’ whose rights to ancestral territory and culture have been recognized, promoted and protected by the 1987 constitution, existing national statutes enacted by congress and international instruments, we strongly feel that our position will facilitate the resolution of the long decade Mindanao problems with the resumption of the GRP-MILF peace talks;

And now, the new Administration of the Republic of the Philippines under the leadership of His Excellency President Benigno Semion Cojuangco Aquino III opens the portal to winning lasting peace in Mindanao through peace negotiations. He reiterated that the peace process is for the people and should be by all Filipinos. He enjoins every Filipinos, the general citizenry, the private sectors, the Lumads, the Moro and all stakeholders to be actively involved in the peace process. The Filipinos have long been shacked not only by violence, but also by the insecurity, cynicism and paralysis that arises from violence, he added.

On this basis, we the Non-Islamized Indigenous Peoples (LUMAD) of ARMM and portion of Sultan Kudarat Province have agreed among ourselves to present the following as our consistent positions, agenda and demands on the GRP-MILF peace negotiations on Bangsamoro Homeland and Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. Our stand therefore on the issue of ancestral domains, resources, territory and governance stated as follows:

A. Affirm and recognize traditional peace agreements between Apu Mamalu and Apu Tabunaway executed through the traditional PEACE PACT known as Tampuda hu Balagen, Safa, Pakang, Diyandi and other cultural processes (estimated by many scholars that took place between 1450 – 1475A.D). This incident led to the historical separations of the two brothers and their followers and then sealed with SAFA (PACT) with conditions summarized as follows: 1. Respect and recognition of one’s Territory, Systems of Self-Governance and Justice Systems; 2. The continuing and non-Limit Circulation of the means and livelihood and the sawit System or gift among communities; 3. Respect and recognition of ones customs, tradition and culture; 4. Unity against common enemy and 5. Lifetime treatment as brothers and sisters including the generations to come.

1. On Ancestral Domains

For the moment, the Tribes had laid claims to our ancestral domains covering the estimated land area of 289,268 Hectares comprising the municipalities of Upi, South Upi, Ampatuan, Shariff Aguak, Datu Unsay, Datu Saudi, Guindulongan, Talayan, Datu Odin and Datu Blah of the province of Maguindanao and portion of Esperanza, Lebak, Bagumbayan, Senator Ninoy Aquino, Kalamansig and Palimbang of Sultan Kudarat province and portions of Cotabato City (PC-HILL- Pedro Camfilo Kolina down to Datar Selongon – ORC now Daubab – Esteros and Tamuntaka now). Note: Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA Law) RA#8371 of 1997 is not yet implemented in ARMM.

2. On the Political Territory

Consistent with our principle of peaceful co-existence, we recognize and support a broader territory for the Bangsa Moro shall recognized the Teduray, Lambangian and Dulangan Manubo territory within the Bangsa Moro Nation. It is also the desire of the tribes stated above to be at liberty to practice and promote our cultural identity by way of actual implementation of tribal and customary laws through the commonly accepted Tribal Governance.

3. On the Resources

The rights of the Teduray, Lambangian and Dulangan Manubo Tribes in matters of the exploration, exploitation and Use of natural resources that maybe found within our ancestral domains shall be upheld and respected for the purpose of ensuring ecological, environment protection and the conservation measures pursuant to national and customary laws. The tribes shall have priority rights in the utilization and management of all numeral resources to include strategic minerals and forestry resources.

4. On Governance

As earlier stated, the Tribes shall conform to any type or form of governance that maybe agreed upon and mutually adopted, hence its is also the desire of the Tribes to have equal opportunities and representation in all levels of governance from local to the regional level, side by side with our Muslim brothers and sisters. Provided, that in the territory identified by the Tribes their rights to rule and govern must be pursued, implemented, recognized and respected vis-à-vis their Bangsa Moro Nation. In the case of Federal System, our Tribal Based Self-Governance shall converge with other Tribal Based Self-Governance outside ARMM to form a single state.

5. Independent Indigenous Peoples’ Peace Panel – ARMM (IPPA)

Both GRP and MILF must recognize and provide technical and financial support for the creation of Independent Indigenous Peoples’ Peace Negotiating Panel as legitimate body to represent the major issues and concerns of the Indigenous Peoples/Indigenous Cultural Communities. This si a local mechanism who has the authority to talk to both parties (GRP-MILF) with regards to the above mentioned position, agenda and demands.

B. Establish effective mechanism to promote and protect the historic rights of the Indigenous Peoples/Indigenous Cultural Communities based on Native Titles through the execution of Memorandum of Agreements/Treaties with Indigenous Peoples/Indigenous Cultural Communities.

Therefore, based on the above positions, agenda and demands, we hereby agree to support the peace talks between GRP and MILF and we call on both parties to give due attention and consideration to the above positions and demands to ensure that our distinct rights are recognized and respected.


We fully recognize and respect the existence of our Maguindanao brothers and sisters in their owned identified territory and those that are lawfully resettled in our own communities. On this basis, WE AFFIRM our strong commitment to the Apu Mamalu and Apu Tabunaway PEACE PACT and formulate guidelines on setting modern conflicts between the Non-Islamized Indigenous Peoples (Lumad) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and in the portion of Sultan Kudarat Province not only in our areas cluster but throughout Mindanao. Our position paper, agenda and demands is an expression of our serious support to the forthcoming peace negotiations of the GRP and MILF until its conclusion. This position is an expression of our active participation on the ground level to be considered in the process of the negotiation.

And above all, WE PRAY that any political decisions for political change the application of the statutes must not above and beyond human beings. Any use of the laws should not divorce from its social context.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Fifty seven members of BISDAK Bikers for Peace from Bohol in Visayas Island just completed their tour to different areas of Mindanao with a theme: “Ride for Peace and Solidarity for Mindanao”. which started on November 28 and ended on December 6, 2010. BISDAK is an acronym for Bisayang Dako alang sa Kalinaw – an organization of Boholano Bikers who endeavored to extend their share of building peace as well as build bridge of understanding between the people of Visayas and Mindanao.

The Bikers traversed the route from Bohol, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Bukidnon, Cotabato province, Cotabato City, Maguidanaop, Davao del Sur Davao City and back to Bohol. During their travel there are selected areas where they were hosted by different groups where brief forum for peace was undertaken for the orientation of the objectives of their tour as well as their intent to be in solidarity for a quest for peace of the people of Mindanao. This is their own contribution too to a week long celebration of the “Mindanao Week of Peace” which is being commemorated by peace advocates in Mindanao every year. The endeavor was initiated by Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) under its “Right to Self-Determination Program” headed by Jude Cabusao as Program Officer.

On December 4, the Bikers was invited and hosted by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) in Cotabato City where they were briefed by its Secretary General in the person of Sammy Maulana on the Mindanao situation especially on the context of Bangsamoro and the peace process followed by interactive discussions where substantial issues related to the negotiation and the urgency of needs of the people of Mindanao to resolve the centuries old Bangsamoro Quest for Self-Determination that crafted the Bikers’ “Manifesto for Peace”.

Peace Manifesto

We All Must Contribute to Building Peace
Peace begins in each of us. Start with a sincere discernment as to what we truly value that will create goodwill and understanding. Carry on by making concrete efforts that will help promote meaningful solidarity within, among and between diverse communities. Continue by solving the causes of enmity between individuals and among the people.
We bike for peace because we believe that we can do something for peace. Every sweat we shed, the pain we endure, the cold and rain and searing heat that freeze and burn our skin serve to remind us of the pain and sadness that continue to plague the peoples of Mindanao.
Love. Respect. Understanding. Solidarity. Learn from the past. Justice. These are our individual messages to the peoples of Mindanao.
Jobs and livelihood for all people. End discrimination. Continue the peace process and achieve a peaceful settlement of the armed conflict not only in Mindanao but also in the whole country. These are our messages to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the National Democratic Front

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


ritten by Mike G. Kulat
Thursday, 11 November 2010 03:37

More than twenty thousand Bangsamoro inhabitants staged mass rally at the Cotabato – Davao – Lanao national highways junction in Crossing Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao Saturday, November 6, 2010.

The mobilization was spearheaded by the Mindanao Alliance for Peace (MAP) of which the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) is a member-convener. The bulk of the participants came from Cotabato City and nearby municipalities of Maguindanao and North Cotabato. The affair was aired over radio station DXMY in Cotabato City as complement from the block-time radio program of CBCS.

Summing up from the messages of various resource speakers, the public gathering was triggered by the growing concerns of the Moro civil society organizations and the Bangsamoro as whole of ever deteriorating peace and order condition and insecurity of civilians brought about by spate of bombings, killings and consequently arbitrary arrests perpetrated by government authorities.

One youth Moro leader Datuan Magon called on the Aquino Government to exercise his will and make true his campaign and inaugural speech promises of “Daang matuwid tungo sa pagbabago” or commitment to solve the “situwasyon sa Mindanao” within his term. He even stressed: “Pangulong Aquino, magpakatutuo ka! Tuparin mo ang iyong pangako sa mamayan na pagbabago at ang mamayan ang iyong Boss.” This sentiment was triggered by the recent development on the national situation started by “travel advisory” of different countries of an alleged impending “terrorists” attack in the Philippines which was followed by erratic bomb explosions in some parts of Mindanao.

These bombing incidences victimize civilians and consequently the pursuit operations being conducted by authorities against alleged perpetrators are also civilians. The scenario is not a new occurrence in the lives of Bangsamoro which they pinned hope of renewal under the Aquino regime. The latest double-blow to civilians was the one on October 21, 2010 where a bomb exploded in a Rural Transit Bus plying Cagayan – Tacurong route at Matalam, North Cotabato killing nine and wounding ten innocent civilians. Akin to the previous occurrence in manner, government authorities apprehended on October 23 five innocent Moro civilian residents of Rosary Heights 3, Cotabato City namely: (1) Abdulalim Talusob – 19 years old (2) Yasser Talusob – 24 years old (3) Alamin Samal – 42 years old and Ibrahim Alimanan – 30 years old. Samal and Alimanan are government employees of the Cooperative Development Authority and National Labor Relations Commission of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) respectively.

On the other hand, Hadji Murshid Mascud head of the CBCS – Kutawato Regional Management Committee in an interview express his disgust over authorities’ punitive actions against civilians without the benefit of impartial investigation and due process of law. On the GRP-MILF Peace Talks, he expressed Moro civil society’s concern over the plight of the negotiation. This he said as even ranking officials of the MILF involved in the peace process which ought to be covered by Security and Immunity Guarantee under GRP-MILF Ceasefire agreement were not spared from these arbitrary arrests.

Mascud re-echoed the general sentiment of the rally participants that at the event the annoying situation is not remedied by the government, they will issue a strong call to the leadership of the MILF to withdraw or cool-off from the GRP-MILF Peace Talks and find other venue in achieving the Bangsamoro quest for self-determination.


Written by admin
Saturday, 13 November 2010 06:58

While the impasse between the Government of Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is currently centered on the issues of "comfort levels", "proper" channels, facilitator and facilitation architecture, there is a possibility that this negotiation deadlock, if prolonged,will soon affect the situation on the ground and once this happens, the situation on the ground (not the comfort levels of negotiators ) will determine the tempo and direction of the political negotiations. From experience, once the situation on the ground unravels and hostilities begin, political negotiations will have to take a back seat.

One of the stabilizing factors that has kept the "peace" despite the lack of significant movement in the political negotiations between the GPH and the MILF is the presence of a multinational International Monitoring Team (IMT) in Mindanao. At present, the IMT, which was deployed on February 28 this year, is composed of "39 members, 20 from Malaysia, 15 from Brunei, three from Libya and one from Japan who is focusing on development aspects."
Thus, in IMT records only 3 armed skirmishes between AFP and MILF in 2010, MindaNews reports that:

"The Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) has recorded only three armed skirmishes between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from January to October this year, a significant drop from 110 for the same period in 2009.

A total of 116 armed skirmishes were recorded from January to December 2009, and 222 from March to December 2008. In 2008, the highest recorded incidence was 77 in August, the month the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order barring the government peace panel from signing on August 5 that year, the already initialed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD)."

Clearly, the IMT has served both as a deterrent to hostilities and a symbol that the peace process is alive and remains to be a viable alternative to war. In fact, for most people in the conflict-affected area and even to the foot soldiers of the GPH and the MILF, the IMT is the most visible face of the peace process. The IMT as a symbol contributes an "intangible" - a sense that things are moving and that war is not imminent.

If the impasse between the GPH and the MILF continues and no new agreement on the IMT happens, the IMT will have to go and leave Mindanao by December 8, 2010. Yes, the red date is December 8, 2010. Based on the Terms of Reference of the International Monitoring Team dated December 9, 2009, the term of the mandate of the IMT is only for 12 months:

"8. DURATION - The term of the mandate of the IMT shall be 12 months except Civilian Protection Component (CPC) which shall remain in place and continue to perform its function should the IMT cease to operate. Extension of the term of the mandate may be considered on a year-to-year basis upon the request by both GRP and MILF."

In order for the IMT to continue fulfilling its duties of monitoring the interim agreements on ceasefire, humanitarian, development and rehabilitation aspects, its mandate must be renewed by the parties. If no new agreement on the term of the IMT happens before December 8, 2010 then the IMT has to leave. Once the IMT leaves, what remains will be the Civilian Protection Component which is composed of the Brussels-based Nonviolent Peaceforce, MinHRAC, Mindanao Peoples Caucus and MOGOP.

(Thw Author - Atty Bong Montessa served in the GRP-MILF Peace Talks in various capacities.Today is November 10. 28 days to go to.[ Also published at:] and [kusogmindanaw] 28 days to go [Wednesday, November 10, 2010 9:54 AM – Today is November 13. 28 days to go MEANS – 25 DAYS LEFT….)


Twenty Five key leaders of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society Organization (CBCS) just concluded its training on “Do No Harm” principles held at Estosan Garden Hotel in Cotabato City last November 9 -12, 2010. The participants were headed by no less than its Chairperson Guiamel M. Alim and the members of its Secretariat in the Central Office.

The bulk of participants were composed of Chairmen and Regional Coordinators of CBCS Regional Management Committees (RMCs) coming from the eight Regions covering SOCSKSARGEN, Davao, Lanao, Zamboanga, Sibugay, Basilan and Sulu areas. The input and facilitation of the training was handled by Miriam Riechers, Supervisor for the Do No Harm program of the German Development Services (DED).

The “Do No Harm” principles or framework is already proven important tools in analyzing the impact of projects especially dealing with interventions being made by International Communities in conflict-affected and related to relief assistance all over the world. But a deeper look at the framework as an “impact analysis tool” can be very useful in a wider sense. It can be an effective tool in analyzing impact of individual, group or organization decisions, project, programs or activities.

The core-substance of Do No Harm principle is its very comprehensive “Conflict-Mapping Tools” and the analysis of “Implicit Ethical Messages” of every individual, group or organizations attitude, undertakings or programs. Through this method, one is able to identify the classification of individual or group’s acts and can be either “divider” or “connector” in a conflict situation inadvertently.

By nature, man is born good but more often than not people or group commits error not by intention but as result of hasty decision-making or just simple neglect of other elements which are taught to be of less importance. In principle explicit attitudes or intentional can be easily detected and prevented and therefore the frameworks focus more on the implicit ones which are consequence of unintentional acts and can be considered more dangerous than former.

Guiamel Alim, CBCS Chairperson hoped that the skills acquired by CBCS Key Leaders will be utilized and be effectively applied in every level of interventions on the ground. This he said could be a great help to lessen the burden of managing a complex organization like CBCS which is operating in a network category.