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Indigenous voices amplified: BARMM opens new multi-purpose building for IP community in SGA


SPECIAL GEOGRAPHIC AREA—The 5th Bangsamoro Foundation Day held added significance for the Indigenous People (IP) community at Barangay Kitulaan in Carmen Cluster of the Special Geographic Area (SGA) with the unveiling of a new multi-purpose building on Jan. 25, courtesy of the regional government.
 
Worth P1.5 million, the building is intended as a learning center for the IPs. It was funded through the Transitional Development Impact Fund (TDIF) of former Member of the Parliament and current minister of the Ministry of IP Affairs, Melanio Ulama.
 
The building was implemented by the Ministry of Public Works.
 
With a floor area of around 76.5 square meters, it can accommodate small gatherings and other IP activities such as meetings, teaching of customary laws to the younger generations, and dispute resolution, among others. MIPA Director General Judith Tinio noted that these functions are manifestations that IP voices are heard by BARMM government.
 
Speaking in Filipino for common understanding of diverse visitors present at the event, Tinio, who affirmed being an IP member herself, said the facility is not merely a building but it symbolizes the commitment of the Bangsamoro Government to include IP welfare on government projects and affairs.
 
“This is not just a building but a symbolic edifice that our (IP) voice are heard by the government,” Tinio said.
 
SGA is composed of 63 former barangays carved out of Cotabato Province and officially became the territory of the BARMM after a successful plebiscite on February 6, 2019.
 
In Carmen, seven barangays mostly inhabited by Maguindanaon tribe joined the new territory but Kitulaan stands out as the only barangay with IP community, primarily Aromanen Manuvu living harmoniously with the dominant tribe.
 
Couple Juvy and Rodolfo Palawan, the latter being the Thimuay or tribal leader, were both thankful for the BARMM, saying
“We don’t have to hold our meetings and other activities under a mango tree.”
 
In retrospect, Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, during the IP month celebration in October last year, vowed to advance IP rights in the BARMM.
 
“In the Bangsamoro, we are committed to advancing the rights of indigenous peoples and their participation in governance and community planning,” CM Ebrahim on his message during the occasion. (Abdullah Matucan/BIO)

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