DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Women from Lumad group Sabokahan trooped to the regional offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) on Friday (Aug. 23) to file a petition to defend the Pantaron Mountain Range and other ancestral lands from threats of mining and other “development” projects.
“It is us, women, who look for ways on how to provide the need of our family through farming, and we get it all from the Pantaron Range which serves as our source of food and medicine as well,” Lorena Mandacawan, Sabokahan Chair, told Davao Today.
For the Lumads in the provinces of Davao del Norte, Bukidnon, and Misamis Occidental, the Pantaron Mountain Range is their source of food, water, and other resources for living.
But the Duterte administration’s “development agenda”, the group said, only aims to sell their ancestral lands to foreign capitalists who’s behind huge projects like dam, mining operations, and plantations.
“All of these are threats that will destroy the Pantaron Range, and other ancestral lands of the tribes of Manobo, Higaonon, Talaandig, and Agusanon,” the petition stated, in time of the Indigenous People’s month.
The petition, addressed to DENR-XI Regional Director Ruth Tawantawan and NCIP-XI Regional Director Geroncio Aguio, seeks to forestall any entry of “destructive” industries to their ancestral land.
“We want our right to self-determination and our right to ancestral domain to be recognized and respected,” Mandacawan said as she stressed the importance of Lumad women to be in the forefront in protecting their lands.
Sabokahan also criticized the Martial Law in Mindanao as “being used to thwart the struggle of the Lumads against huge corporations that want to plunder the rich natural resources found in ancestral lands.”
The Martial Law, it said, resulted to the killings Lumad activists and other advocates and the militarization of communities in the hinterlands, among other human rights violations.
Sabokahan also demanded to stop the “forcible recruitment” of Lumads to CAFGU and paramilitary forces. It said that civilians are “used by the military as pawns in their war against the rebels and to break the peace and unity among Lumads.”
Mandawacan challenged the DENR and NCIP to take an action to their demands
“We will definitely come back if they will not heed to our calls,” she said.
Meanwhile, Bai Bibyaon Ligkayan Bigkay, Talaingod tribal leader and Chair Emeritus of Sabokahan, called on her fellow Lumads to save their ancestral lands “that for years were fought and defended by their ancestors.”
“Sa tanang mga Manobo ug Kalumaran, ang atong hugot nga pagtuo sa atong tribo kinahanglan magpabilin nga lig-on susama sa Pantaron kung diin ang atong kaliwatan nagpuyo ug nagpakabuhi. Kinahanglan magpabilin tang lig-on hangtod nga ang hinungdan sa pandaugdaug sa ting kaliwatan anaa pa ug nagpadayon kini nga naghikaw sa atong katungod nga mabuhi nga adunay dignidad (To all Manobos and Indigenous Peoples, our strong belief to our tribe should remain steadfast, like Pantaron where our ancestors lived and fought. We should carry on, even in the midst of oppression that continue to deprive us of our right to live with dignity),” Bai Bibyaon urged. (davaotoday.com)