MANILA, Philippines — A Matigsalug-Manobo datu schooled Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on the true meaning and context of “duway,” or polygamy, and suggested that the leader of the House of Representatives would do better crafting laws to protect the lumad, of which he claims to be one.
Early this week, Alvarez, who represents Davao del Norte, fended off criticism the dissolution of marriage bill he filed was self-serving, claiming he was a Manobo and is, thus, allowed to have more than one wife under the Indigenous People’s Rights Act.
Alvarez says he has been separated for several years from his wife and admits to having another partner. But speaking to reporters on the issue for the first time Friday, Emelita Apostol-Alvarez, who is head of the Congressional Spouses Foundation Inc., said she “was abandoned right after the SONA (President Rodrigo Duterte’s first state of the nation address in 2016) when he became Speaker.”
Datu Isidro Indao said he doubted Alvarez’s claim of being a lumad and, besides, even if he was, duway is no longer practiced because they now consider the practice “a serious violation of women’s rights.” Besides, he explained, the practice was reserved for datu, who were allowed to take up to five wives “because there was so much work.”
The tribal chief is one of some 300 lumad who are in Metro Manila to demand an end to attacks on tribal schools which, however, President Rodrigo Duterte, parroting military accusations they taught support for communist rebels, recently threatened to bomb.
Indao said he believes Alvarez is attempting to legalize the duway for his personal interest and asked why, if the Speaker were truly a lumad, he did not file bills to stop attacks on indigenous people’s schools and communities and to protect their ancestral lands from plunder by foreign mining companies.
WATCH DATU ISIDRO INDAO IN THIS VIDEO BY INTERAKSYON’S BERNARD TESTA: