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Governance has been defined to refer to structures and processes that are designed to ensure accountability,
transparency, responsiveness, rule of law, stability, equity and inclusiveness, empowerment, and broad-based
participation. Governance also represents the norms, values and rules of the game through which public affairs
are managed in a manner that is transparent, participatory, inclusive and responsive. Governance therefore
can be subtle and may not be easily observable. In a broad sense, governance is about the culture and
institutional environment in which citizens and stakeholders interact among themselves and participate in
public affairs. It is more than the organs of the government.
Often there is a tendency to equate governance with management, the latter primarily referring to the planning,
implementation and monitoring functions in order to achieve pre-defined results. Management encompasses
processes, structures and arrangements that are designed to mobilize and transform the available physical,
human and financial resources to achieve concrete outcomes. Management refers to individuals or groups of
people who are given the authority to achieve the desired results. Governance systems set the parameters
under which management and administrative systems will operate. Governance is about how power is
distributed and shared, how policies are formulated, priorities set and stakeholders made accountable


Pamarinta= governance
The two typical Tausug Pamarinta (Governance):
The BANUA PARINTA refers to the community (kawman) Adat (custom or indigenous) type of
governance. The SULTANATE PARINTA refers to the states type of governance. The Sulu
Sultanate covers Mindanao, Sulu, Palawan and Sabah. The B.A.N.U.W.A. Pamarinta refers to:

Baugbug-based governance
Adat law justice system
Nakurah-tindug peoples vanguards
Ummah-coholic advocacy
Wajib-faithful adherence
Adlaw-akhirat destined ibadat
Governance to Indigenous Peoples

THE WORD INDIGENOUS MEANS originating in and characteristic of a particular region

or country. When the outsiders met indigenous peoples for the first time over five centuries ago,
their concept understanding on indigenous peoples was very disparaging and called them
aborigine, natives, tribal, schedule tribes, ethnic minorities and ethnic nationalities, connoting
backwardness and primitiveness. With such a concept, indigenous systems including
governance, culture, social, legal and judiciary, philosophy, economic systems were replaced with
supposedly more advanced systems to assimilate and "modernize" indigenous peoples.
Indigenous Governance: Spheres, Scope, and Limits
Indigenous governance has different spheres, scope and limits, depending on the
particularities of each national or regional history.
One specific area of Indigenous governance is that of multinationality as conceived by
Indigenous peoples who traditionally live in more than one country. This sphere has prompted
bilateral or multinational agreements on the rights of Indigenous peoples who share more than
one nationality. So far, this has been mainly an area of easy governance, good neighbours, and
scarce hostility. This does not mean that the globalization principles of universality of rights have
taken hold here, nor has the impact of being fragmented by national and territorial borders on
Indigenous peoples been recognized. However, to date these cases have not involved major
governance conflicts. On the other hand, Indigenous peoples have learned how to re-establish
links above and beyond national borders, and rebuild their cultural units and internal government
as a people.
Another aspect of Indigenous governance takes place at the national level. In these cases,
tensions have revolved around the rights exercised by the Indigenous peoples' internal
government and those that are recognized in the national laws and constitutions or de facto. It is
mainly in this sphere where Indigenous governance has developed. In keeping with similar
regional market and capital trends, the near future will surely witness a growth of regional, bi-
national or multinational.
Indigenous governances
Indigenous governance tends to be more internally focused when they are a demographic
minority and when the cultural effects of discrimination have a strong hold on the actions of
Indigenous communities. But as the grip of cultural submission begins to loosen, and as the
awareness of being a demographic majority increases, Indigenous governance reaches out
seeking access to the political and governmental structures.
Thus, Indigenous governance is a bi-directional process that operates both internally and
externally. On the one hand, it involves the exercise of traditional systems of authority, and on the
other, to the inter-relations of these systems with national, regional, and local governments.
Indigenous authority is not based on the democratic principles of representation and
majority, but rather on each community's own traditional criteria. Indigenous leaders, who act as
cultural intermediaries with mainstream society, are entrusted with a mandate from their
communities and peoples. Contrary to western democracies, Indigenous leaders are not
independent authorities, but rather spokespersons on behalf of Indigenous internal authorities
and the mandate and assembly given to them by their people. This particular issue has become
particularly relevant with the creation of special districts in some countries and the opening of
legislative and executive spaces, which has led some Indigenous leaders who have either been
elected or appointed to take on their role in an individualistic way as in the Western tradition.
Indigenous autonomy began gaining recognition in several countries during the 19th
century, and later reinforced by constitutional and legal reforms in the 1980s and 1990s. It has
been further reinforced by Agreement 169 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the
United Nations Draft Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples, the Draft American
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Durban Conference, among others.
Latin American systems have superimposed their governance on Indigenous governance.
In every country, Indigenous peoples are deemed special nationals, and have either been
granted, or governments have been pressed to grant them, certain administrative functions of
representation and participation.
One of the reasons for the lack of understanding in certain areas is the fact that Indigenous
governance systems precede the republican government systems and do not respond solely to
present needs. Indigenous peoples demands today are a consequence of the exclusion they
were forced to in the past as well as to the current growing threats to their ethnic and cultural
rights and their very survival. Thus, the confines of Indigenous governance may be defined by the
legislation, constitutions, or national governance agreements, though Indigenous peoples do not
internally apply these unilateral definitions.
Indigenous governance system
Administrative System
Traditionally, the unit of administration and governance among the indigenous peoples
was restricted to the village level. However, after means of communication developed, the sphere
of administration and governance were expanded in which a number of villages came partially
under one administrative system. Before colonial rule, indigenous peoples were effectively
independent. Generally, four major institutions of authority governed indigenous political and
administrative system: the Village Head or Chief, the Council of Elders, the Priestesses or Priests,
and the Warriors. The four institutions worked closely together to safeguard the interest of the
community. Customary law was used to govern and control the behavior of members of the
Because various tribes or communities were often at war with one another, prosperity,
harmony and security were major considerations in the selection of community leaders. Thus,
community leaders usually comprised of individuals who were knowledgeable about customs and
tradition, have certain specialized knowledge, were wealthy, generous, brave and physically
strong. Furthermore, personal integrity, reliability, honesty, wisdom and a sense of justice were
valued as personal characteristics when selecting leaders.
The Chief or Village Head held the highest authority in term of hierarchy. She/he was
responsible for the overall administration of the village and management of resources. She/he
was also responsible for maintaining law and order in the village. The Chief or Village Head
presided over village meetings and hearings and played a major role in ensuring that the
traditional land boundaries, customary laws and rituals were followed. The Chief or Village Head
was usually inherited as long as his/her personal integrity was fit enough in the eyes and
standards of the villagers. In most cases, the Chief or Village Head was selected for his extensive
knowledge of the custom, wisdom as well as his prowess and organizational ability to protect the
village from raids.
The Council of Elders comprised of members of the community who were usually 40 years
old and above. The Council advised the Chief or Village Head on all important matters concerning
the village. The Council of Elders was the village administrative body, which made important
decisions pertaining to security, development, justice, health, moral, spiritual standards of the
The Council of Elders sought their advice from the village Priestesses or Priests. The
Priestesses were involved in most aspects of village life: birth, marriage and death as well as
other daily activities such as farming, hunting and fishing. Besides being a medical specialist, the
Priestesses were also ritual specialists who ensured moral and spiritual integrity. Tradition and
custom formed the basis of individual behavior and it was believed that non-adherence to these
traditional customs would bring diseases, sickness and natural disasters. To restore harmony,
appropriate rituals had to be performed by the Priestesses. They were thus very influential and
powerful figures in the community.
The last of the major institutions of authority was paramount leader or warrior who was
responsible for security of the community by leading his group of warriors in protecting the village
from outside intruders. The paramount leader or warrior was chosen for his prowess in war and
in the defense of the community. He represents the higher authority but still seek the advice and
assistance from the Priestesses to ward off enemies.
Socio-Economic system
The key characteristics of indigenous economic system are its subsistence nature, limited
goods and services and small scale production. This means that labour is derived locally usually
among family members. Distribution of land, labour and produce is determined to a large extent
by social relationships. The tools used are simple and made from locally available resources
The economic system is based on the principles of reciprocity, social responsibility and
sustainability of resources. In the exchange of goods and services, inter- and intra- community
relationships are important to support the mutual need for survival. In terms of practices, these
principles are seen in the way communities share what they have caught during hunting
expeditions (reciprocity). The principle of social responsibility ensures that all members of the
community, particularly those in a disadvantaged position, are taken care of. There should be no
exploitation of others, including outside communities that come to trade, by unfair valuation goods.
Everyone is expected to assist a member of the community who is in need by giving or making
an exchange even if the product being traded is not needed. This is also expressed through the
borrowing of land, the hiring of needy members as a farm labourer, or the selling of a calf before
it is born at a very low price to the needy person who is looking after the pregnant cow. When
someone had a good harvest, the person would throw a feast for the whole community or
contribute the surplus for needy families.
The principle of sustainability relates mainly to the exploitation or collection of natural
resources. Customary laws and the social and judiciary systems ensure that over-exploitation of
resources do not occur. Indigenous knowledge on resource management is handed down from
generation to generation. Small-scale productions and moderate yields/catch using non-
destructive tools in farming and fishing characterize the livelihood of indigenous communities.
Care is also taken so that only enough food and other needs for the family to subsist are taken
from the environment.
The differences with respect to indigenous systems with the present governance systems,
concepts and practices are very obvious. While the present governance systems opt towards
globalization, indigenous system is much localized and its sphere is expanded only when there is
a common issue to share. Indigenous governance system also is very loose and flexible. The
core goals of indigenous systems are prosperity, harmony, peace, sustainability, reciprocity and
responsibility for the whole community while globalization budgies moving more towards individualism.
Indigenous governance goes beyond self-management to include their whole universe as peoples.
Indigenous governance indeed includes the management of material and social resources, but its notion of
governance encompasses many other aspects of their social and spiritual world. Other analysts define
Indigenous governance based on current demands for the recognition of their rights, identities or their desire
to help build inclusive, diverse, multicultural and multiethnic national societies. (...) the notion of
governance promoted by Indigenous peoples first requires the legal and political recognition of social,
cultural and ethnic diversity, accompanied by the creation of a system that provides for multicultural and
multiethnic relations.

The Indigenous Concept of Good Governance

International agencies like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank are promoting the concept
of "good governance" in the Pacific islands. But indigenous societies in the region have their own ways of
governing family and community.

Governance in the indigenous concept is linked to a belief system that supervises and monitors
peaceful co-existence of everyone and everything that share the multi-dimensional natural world that we
live in. This is done in accordance with the natural laws of society, which are based on our indigenous
creation stories and the protocols that have been made by human beings.

The role of leadership

The leader takes responsibility to compensate for breaches of the peace on behalf of his community
members. Truth and justice are prerequisites for good governance, social security, economic self-reliance
and political stability. Quality leadership, authority and good governance is measured by the ability to uphold
cohesive community spirit, with a state of peace and feelings of social security, economic self-reliance and
political stability.

Collective ownership

One of the fundamental characteristics of indigenous communities is their collective ownership and
responsibility to everything.

Indigenous governance is, above all, a series of dynamics and forces that flow between two or more views
of the world, in a constant flux and change, achieving or losing balance, which aims at maintaining unity
and an Indigenous ethnic conscience based on consensus and respect. It operates both internally and
externally within a wider global system that contains them. Internal Indigenous governance refers to the
role that traditional leaders should play as advisors and companions of their peoples. Management and
administration are secondary for Indigenous governments. Their main duty is to know of the conflicts and
problems that affect social control and regulation; the relations with nature, spirituality and the sacred; the
material and spiritual control over their lands and strategies for survival and the future.

External governance aims at the defence of self-determination (or self-government); the creation and
maintenance of mechanisms of intermediation and contact for dialogue and negotiation with national
societies and governments; to democratic representation and participation (in legislative or executive
domains); the control of natural resources (use, conservation, and exploitation), to the possession and
ownership of land and territory; to the development of a chosen way of life and society and the definition of
how and to what extent to integrate to capitalist development and the market economy. Indigenous
governments have existed within national governments that disown them but make them a part of them.


Indigenous governance, patterns and practices of rule by which indigenous people govern themselves in
formal and informal settings.

Indigenous peoples are the original inhabitants of geographic regions. The term indigenous peoples is often
used to refer to those native inhabitants who were dispossessed of their land by outside peoples, either by
conquest, occupation, settlement, or some combination of the three. The term most commonly refers to
those peoples subjugated since the late 15th century by European powers and their colonies. Indigenous
governance refers to the myriad ways in which these peoples have governed themselves or continue doing
so despite the fact of colonization.

Such governance practices can be organized into three broad categories:

1. Practices that take place independent of, or prior to, colonization by an external political entity. Indigenous
peoples had already existing forms of political community before their domination and exclusion by foreign
peoples. In many cases, these forms of governance continue and constitute an important part of the
political lives of indigenous peoples. These forms of governance may include traditional institutions;
diplomatic practices in relation to other indigenous peoples; internal differentiation
and collective organization of, for example, clans, families, bands, or tribes; and ceremonial activities.

2. Practices that take place in coordination with, or formally sanctioned by, the colonial power. In many cases,
indigenous peoples accommodated themselves to, and integrated themselves into, the political structures
of the colonial power, either by force or by choice or both. The governance of indigenous peoples has
historically been channeled into structures that typically continue to be controlled by the colonial power,
formally and informally. Examples of such governance practices may include band-councils, quasi-judicial
adjudicative panels, formal legal challenges, participation within the governing institutions of the colonial
power (e.g., sitting in elective office of a legislative body of a colonial power), and treaty negotiations.

3. Practices that are specifically developed and exercised in opposition to colonial power. Indigenous peoples
have resisted colonialism and have practiced political governance to counteract the negative effects of
exploitation and domination. These forms of resistance may include the organization and coordination of
movements toward decolonization, antiracist activism, and warrior societies.

Indigenous governance practices often take on more than one of these dimensions simultaneously,
such as working within structures formally sanctioned by the colonial power but also simultaneously
modifying and resisting them. Furthermore, because indigenous governance is a set of practices that is
always changing with the needs of indigenous peoples and with the colonial setting itself, it cannot be
formalized as consisting of any particular one of these relationships, institutions, or goals.