Inclusion of the Samal Bajaus in the Bangsamoro Basic Law

Isabela City. The Bajau People’s Organization (BPO) and the Claret Samal Foundation, Inc. (CSFI) attended the Public Hearing and Consultation on House Bill No. 4994 otherwise called the Bangsamoro Basic Law held at the Basilan State College Open Gym in Isabela City last Thursday, November 20, 2014. Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL, formally opened the said Public Hearing and Consultation. It was well represented by all the stakeholders of the island province of Basilan.

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CSFI and BPO grabbed the opportunity to voice their plea in the general public. With one voice we appealed for a revision of the drafted BBL that was passed on to Congress to make it rather an inclusive law that will cater all the constituents of the Bangsamoro with particular consideration and protection to the marginalized indigenous people like the Samal Bajaus. There are implications affecting them directly which we are protesting and appealing to amend. The definition of the indigenous people in the BBL in our judgment is erroneous. A group does not cease its being indigenous even after they were converted to Islam or Christianity. Since most of them are Islamized they were removed from the list.

We hope and pray that they do their part and amend the definition of indigenous people in the BBL faithful to local and international Laws such us the IPRA Law, that of the United Nation (UN) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) so as to include marginalized groups such as the Samal Bajaus.

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