Lumads picket in front of environment office-A A +A
Monday, June 25, 2012
MEMBERS of the Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association (Tindoga) held a picket in front of the regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Macabalan Monday morning.
The group urged the agency not to approve the application for extension of a ranch owner in Bukidnon.
Datu Santiano Andong Agdahan Jr., head claimant of Tindoga, questioned government agencies, especially DENR, why they are always giving allowances to those “people who have money.”
“They easily bend their policies for these people but when dealing with us, the poor indigenous people who really have the right to the land, they are strict and unyielding. In fact, we have been struggling for years for our Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) and yet until now, we do not have it because we are refusing to lease back our land to this Mr. Lorenzo,” Agdahan said.
The group is reportedly against the approval of ranch owner Pablo Lorenzo’s request for an extension on his application on the ancestral land of the Manobos in Quezon, Bukidnon.
The DENR reportedly sent a communication to Lorenzo asking him to comply with the process set by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) “for his ranch in the area of conflict.”
In March this year, the guards of Lorenzo allegedly fired at the Manobo families who tried to start tilling the lands and put up their homes in the area.
Tindoga insists that the permit of Lorenzo should not be approved.
“They are giving time to Mr. Lorenzo so that they could give the rights to the land to him, finding a reason why they would not give us our title,” Agdahan said.
The group argues that even if the DENR would give time for Lorenzo to comply with the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process, they are not giving their consent.
They are wary that Lorenzo and the NCIP will create their own Lumad (Native) group that would endorse the former’s application to “technically meet the requirements for approval.”
“This is not far from reality,” said Jomorito Goaynon, chairperson of Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization of which Tindoga is an observer-member.
“We have several cases in Mindanao wherein a new organization was formed. Datus were instituted by the NCIP just so a project, which was rejected by the original organization, would be granted consent,” Goaynon said.
The Manobos had been forced to leave the land when the government previously gave the rights to Rancho Montalvan.
It was learned that Lorenzo is a nephew of Montalvan who succeeded the management of the ranch.
After its expiration in 2009, Tindoga immediately applied for CADT.
“Our forefathers did not know our rights then. But now, we know better and we are asserting our rights,” Agdahan said.
Officials of DENR invited the members of Tindoga for a dialogue on Monday.
Agdahan said during the dialogue, the DENR promised not to give extension to the application of Lorenzo.
However, DENR executives clarified that they also cannot install the Manobos before the issuance of FPIC.
Agdahan said they had been camping outside the ranch for a year already and have been fighting for the land for 25 years.
He said if nothing happened on their appeal, Tindoga members would again hold a picket in front of the DENR office. (Abigail Malalis/PR)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on June 26, 2012.