32 barangays in Davao Region for inclusion in JBE thru plebiscite
by Jean D. Abangan
Davao City (13 August) -- Three towns in the Davao Region are subject for inclusion to the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) through a plebiscite, 25 years after the signing of a Comprehensive Agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Annexes to the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Ancestral Domain (AD) between the Government of the Philippines (GRR) and the MILF bared out some areas that are subject to territorial ancestral domain claims by the MILF.
In the Davao Region, the 32 barangays that fall under Category B ancestral domain claims of the MILF, belong to the municipalities of Sarangani in Davao del Sur; Tarragona in Davao Oriental; and Pantukan, Compostela Valley.
The 32 barangays in the Davao Region are among the 1,459 total barangays Mindanao-wide, classified under Category B.
As agreed by the GRP and the MILF involved in the negotiation, Category B areas called the "Special Intervention Areas", are those in "conflict-affected areas outside the BJE which shall be the subject of special socio-economic and cultural affirmative action implemented by the Central Government pending the conduct of a plebiscite not earlier than 25 years from the signing of the Comprehensive Compact to determine their accession of the BJE."
The MOA-AD further says that the areas are subject to further negotiations by the national government and the MILF.
The Comprehensive Compact refers to the Final Peace Agreement which would have been the outcome of the supposed MOA-AD signing on August 5 in Malaysia.
Presidential Peace Adviser Hermogenes Esperon told media participants to the 4th Mindanao Media Summit in Davao City, that the MILF Peace Agreement was set to be signed in November, 2009, three months after a plebiscite would be held to determine which of the 735 barangays under Category A, would be included in the JBE.
Esperon said Category A barangays are those adjacent to the ARMM areas which according to the MOA, shall constitute the core JBE areas that would also include the municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal--- all in Lanao del Norte.
Under the MOA-AD, the JBE is bestowed with "authority and jurisdiction over the Ancestral Domain and Ancestral lands, including both alienable and non-alienable lands encompassed within their homeland and ancestral territory, as well as delineation of ancestral domain/lands of the Bangsamoro people located therein."
The "Territorial" portion of the MOA-AD says that the Bangsamoro homeland and historic territory refer to "the land mass as well as the maritime, terrestrial, fluvial, and alluvial domains, and the aerial domain, the atmospheric space above it, embracing the Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan geographic region."
Meanwhile, Esperon clarified speculations accusing the GRP panel of giving in to the demands of the MILF, saying "the peace negotiators never intended to give away part of the Philippines."
"Most of all, we never intended to ignore the Congress and the will of the people," he said.
After a prolonged deadlock over ancestral domain, the MILF agreed this year that the Philippine government conducts a plebiscite to determine the extend of BJE territory.
"We have fought for this because, the plebiscite which is the highest form of consultation in our democracy, would allow the people to decide for themselves," Esperon said.
Because a plebiscite can only happen through an enabling law, Esperon said "Congressional concurrence is needed since enabling law will have to be passed." (PIA/JMDA) [top]