By Michael Aaron Gomez

The Ateneo de Davao University hosted a peace forum held by the Lumad advocacy group “Lumad Husay Mindanaw” called “Asoy sa Kalinaw” last Friday, 22 June 2018, at the Pakighinabi Room of the Ricci Hall, Community Center of the First Companions, Jacinto campus. The peace forum served as the venue for the Lumad tribes of Mindanao to appeal for their engagement and inclusion in the peace process between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Representing the University at the forum was Director of the University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council (UCEAC) Mr. Mark Paul Samante. Other representatives of the various Lumad tribes in Mindanao, as well as representatives from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the NDFP were also in the audience. At the conference, the panel chair of the “Lumad Husay Mindanaw,” Titay Bleyen Leticio Datuwata, read the Lumad’s collective appeal for peace, drafted by groups such as the Mindanao IP Peace Forum (MIPPF), Lumad Mindanao Peoples Federation (LMPF), and the Katawhang Lumad Council of the Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (KL-MPPM). “The great spirits of our Ancestors…reminded us to stand our ground as self-determining peoples who aspire to live and thrive with freedom and dignity while we struggle as distinct peoples owning our past, our culture, and our governance,” the document said.

The group also read the policy proposals they intend to deliver to the two parties. These proposals also included their concerns they would like the two parties to address as they proceed with the peace process. Part of these concerns were for both parties to stop calling all the diverse Lumad tribes as simply “national minorities,” and to “guarantee that our ancestral domains and ancestral lands are not included in your roadmap of land reform.”  Finally, another proposal included in the draft was to request both parties to “allow the indigenous justice protocol in the settlement of complaints/cases.”

The Ateneo de Davao University has made it a University mission to foster the interests of all peoples in Mindanao, especially those of its Muslim and Lumad communities who have been victims of severe historical injustices, for the cause of social justice and the common good. The University “excels further in the promotion of the faith that does justice, in cultural sensitivity and transformation, and in inter-religious dialogue, particularly with the Muslim and Lumad communities of Mindanao.”

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