Today, we commemorate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, dedicated to raising awareness and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples around the world. This year’s theme, “Leaving No One Behind: Indigenous Peoples and the Call for a New Social Contract,” is a reminder of our responsibility to each other as we build and rebuild a world of healing and reconciliation, justice and peace.

We share much of the Bangsamoro’s history of land and struggle with the indigenous peoples of Mindanao. The strong connection between land and life is at the heart of both Bangsamoro and indigenous peoples’ concerns, with our identity and heritage anchored on a stewardship passed on from one generation to another.  In solidarity we stand with our indigenous allies who have inherited their ancestors’ resistance against erasure and forgetting, a resistance that we continue alongside them at a time of historical reckoning. 

Given this relationship between land and life, displacement is a direct threat not only to the safety and survival of the Bangsamoro people but also of our indigenous kin. We reiterate our appeal for the passage of an Internally Displaced Persons Rights Bill, both in the regional and national government, to uphold and protect the rights of those whose survival depends on land and its life-sustaining resources. Along with efforts to address the issues of the present, we must also work on the past and the future through transitional justice and reconciliation measures that reinforce social cohesion and bridge justice gaps in the region.

As we continue the difficult but important work that is necessary to the success of our political transition, may we always acknowledge and embrace the diversity that makes the Bangsamoro strong and steadfast in the face of adversity. Meaningful participation and genuine partnerships are essential to inclusive growth in the Bangsamoro, and it is our duty to make sure no one gets left behind as we move forward into a better future together.