Comparing mining companies and globalization to Goliath and to sharks, Bishop Jose R. Manguiran of Dipolog enjoined indigenous peoples, who he said are like David and dolphins, to practice bayanihan to fight for their rights.
BY RONALYN V. OLEA
INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S WATCH
“Six years ago, GMA [Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo] publicly announced during Independence Day in Zamboanga that the Subanen [tribe] will receive a certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT)…[and yet] the Arroyo government allows mining in CADT areas.”
Bishop Jose R. Manguiran of Dipolog said this during a forum titled Tongtongan organized by the EED Philippine Partners’ Task Force for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (EEDTFIP), Nov. 14 at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
Manguiran said he has been attending to two tribes, the Subanen and the Muslims in Mindanao.
The bishop cited the logging activities of the Consunji clan on lands that form part of the ancestral domain of the Sirawai Kalibugan indigenous peoples of Zamboanga del Norte. “For 25 years, they have been fighting for their ancestral domain,” said Manguiran.
Manguiran said that Lumad complainants are always in hiding. “More than 30 people have been killed in that area without justice,” he added.
The bishop also deplored the government for exploiting the Lumads and their culture for the entertainment of foreign visitors. Manguiran said, “Government officials wear tribal attire, [at the same time], indigenous peoples are kicked out of their ancestral domain.”
Leaders of indigenous peoples shared the present dangers confronting them.
Jaime Tigan-o Dugao, a Kankana-ey elder from the Mountain Province and chairman of the Movement for Inter-tribal Unity and Development (MAITUD), said large-scale mining threatens their province and the whole region of Cordillera.
He said three exploration permits (EP) cover 8,745 hectares, the Asean Petroleum Security Agreement (APSA) covers 11, 976 hectares and other applications for mining cover 122, 482 hectares in Mountain province, Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya.
Dugao said, “We are not against development but we have learned from the experiences of our brothers in Benguet.” He revealed that large-scale mining covers 20,000 hectares of agricultural land in Benguet.
Dugao said that mining has been destroying environment since the 19th century. “In Itogon, open-pit mining stripped the mountain of forest covers… Mining nearly wiped out the watershed of Southern Benguet. The forest denudation rate has increased.” Dugao related.
He added that the country’s food security is being threatened by mining activities. While the government gets very small amounts in taxes from mining companies, Dugao said, the cost to the lives of indigenous peoples are immeasurable and could not be compensated by any amount.
“Sustaining our land and resources is our only legacy to our children and grandchildren,” Dugao said.