Lumads to NCIP: ‘We want our land’-A A +A
Saturday, October 19, 2013
IN THEIR pursuit to claim their lands, scores of lumads and farmers from Bukidnon picketed outside the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) regional office in Cagayan de Oro City Friday.
Datu Santiano Agdahan Jr., chairperson of Tindoga (Tribal Indigenous Association), led the march from their post at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office to NCIP to demand for the certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT) which according to him has been elusive for the past years.
Tindoga is an indigenous peoples’ group consist of Manobo-Pulangihon tribe. It was initiated in 2008 to legitimize their claims on the ancestral land which Pablo Lorenzo of Montalvan Ranch, Inc. currently occupies.
Tindoga has camped out in front of the DENR compound for three days expressing the same demand.
“Sige lang mi nila og saaran. Wala ‘mi desenteng pamuyo nga matawag nga amo, ni seguridad sa pagkaon, gihikaw sa amo (They (NCIP) always give us false promises. We don’t have a decent home that we can call ours. We are also deprived with food security),” said Agdahan.
He added that their clan was forced to evacuate when the government granted Montalvan Inc. a permit for ranch operation which Lorenzo has been managing.
Through the years, the ranch has transformed into a pineapple plantation which Lorenzo opted to expand.
It was also highlighted in the protest that several harassments have been allegedly perpetrated by Lorenzo’s guards to the lumads who constructed makeshift shanties along the fences of the ranch.
He also added that Lorenzo presented a proposal wherein the latter will lease the land for P15,000 per hectare per year which the lumads find unacceptable since they want a land to till and a place to live in and not outside the fences of the Montalvan ranch.
According to Bong Pasal, a member of task force created by NCIP, the process of scrutinizing the genealogy of the lumads to determine the legitimate claimants is a painstaking task that needs to be perfected.
In granting the CADT to the lumads, the listing should be well-documented to ensure that everyone is included and no one could be missed out, he said.
Pasal said that they are in the process of finalizing the listing to be forwarded to the NCIP national office.
However, Datu Jomorito Goaynon, Kalumbay chairperson, questioned the slow process of awarding the CADT to the lumads.
He said that there should be a solution to overhaul the procedure.
“We have dealt with all the adversities in life – from the harassments to land-grabbing of agro-industrial companies which engulf us wholly with impunity,” said Goaynon.
“In the real essence, ancestral domain is not for sale. The Montalvan ranch already belonged to CADT and the lumads should not worry about it. Because once the land has been provided with title, nobody can lay a hand on it,” explained Shirlene D. Sario, NCIP provincial officer for Bukidnon.
She also said that the government did not spend any single peso in the task force. It is community-funded as such causing a difficulty to speed up the process.
But the NCIP regional office is not decisive. It has to wait for the national office to decide on the CADT awarding.
Tindoga demands that, “the local government unit (LGU) takes a firm position on awarding the area occupied by the Montalvan Ranch to the Indigenous People (IP) as manifested in a local resolution that will be endorsed to the NCIP; conduct a swift investigation regarding Lorenzo’s alleged land grabbing, environmental destruction and all other related rights abuses; investigate and disarm all armed groups and security personnel implicated in all previous and current cases of harassments against their community members; extend immediate humanitarian assistance to the IPs, most especially food, shelter and medicine; spearhead in dismantling of the bogus task force fast-track created by the NCIP; and make actions to prevent the further expansion of commercial pineapple plantations in the locality.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 19, 2013.