DAVAO CITY – Lumad leaders in Mindanao gather here starting Tuesday for a conference as their communities are “under intensified attack by environmental plunder, militarization and human rights violations.”

Dulphing Ogan, secretary-general of Kalumaran, a Mindanao alliance of lumads said the activity gathers representativ es from the Manobo, Bagobo, Higaonon, Talaandig, Banwaon, Matigsalog, Subanen, B’laan, Arumanen, T’boli, Mandaya, Mansaka, Dibabawon,and Mamanwa IP groups.

The gathering is dubbed Dumalongdong Mindanaw or Mindanao Datu-Bai conference. The Datus are male and Bais are female titles of Lumad traditional leaders in Mindanao.

Ogan said “the Philippine government has long allowed the entry and operations of foreign large corporations in the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples.”

“This has caused the forced displacement of indigenous communities, irreparable damage to the environment, and a string of grave human rights violations including extra-judicial killings of Lumad leaders and their kin,” said Ogan.

Ogan said that among those who have “mining interests in Mindanao” are “Xstrata-SMI in SOCSKSARGEN, Toronto Ventures Inc. (TVI) in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Russel, Apex, St. Augustine, and Agusan Petroleum mining in Southern Mindanao, BHP-Billiton, Anglo-American and Taganito in Caraga region.”

He also identified Del Monte in Northern Mindanao and Dole Philippines in SOCSKSARGEN as two prominent banana and pineapple plantations in the island which “have also encroached on ancestral lands (of Lumads) for decades.”

Ogan said that these plantations are still into “feverish expansion to cover more lands.”

He said that the government’s “heightened push for energy generation through coal-fired power plants and geothermal, hydropower through mega-dams, and other extractive industries” also adds-up to the Lumads problems.

Ogan added that President Benigno Aquino III “makes a hard pitch for these corporate ventures”, and has deployed the Army as “guards and entry force” of these companies.

“The existence of Investment Defense Forces (IDF), the proliferation of paramilitary groups, and the presence of state armed forces in areas of operation of foreign corporations attest to the vicious moves of the government and these corporations to drive indigenous peoples out of their ancestral domains,” he said.

Ogan said that Dumalongdong Mindanaw is timely as “there is urgency for Lumad leaders to collate and draw lessons from their experiences of imperialist plunder and militarization, resolutely confront this national oppression by the Aquino regime, and assert their rights to ancestral domains and genuine self-determination.”

Ogan said they will also participate in the Earth Day protest as “Dumalondong Mindanaw will sharpen its relevance, content, and direction of the commemoration.”

“Dumalondong is a sacred gathering. It is timely that we Lumads now gather to talk about the destruction of the earth, our homes, our life,” he said.(davaotoday.com)

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