Mindanao tribal leaders press end of large-scale mining and other projects destroying lumad culture and life

BusinessWeek Mindanao
26 April 2011

DIGOS CITY — Some 100 lumad leaders from Mindanao gathered for a Datu-Bai Conference calling for the stop of large-scale mining and other development projects that are destroying the ecology and Lumad ancestral domain.

The gathering continues at the San Isidro Labrador Parish, Digos City with a cultural gathering today and press conference tomorrow.

The traditional leaders include tribes from the Bagobo, Ata-Manobo, Matigsalug, Obo and Manobo in the Davao Region, B’laan and T’boli in Socsksargen, Higaonon, Kaolo, Banwaon and Talaandig in Northern Mindanao, Subanen in Zamboanga Region and Manobos in Caraga.

The Conference held April 25 pointed out that “development” projects have encroached in their ancestral lands such as large-scale mining, agri-business, and coal-power plants.

The recent deaths in a landslide in a mining area in Pantukan, Compostela Valley shows a possibility of what will happen if large-scale mining comes full blown. Datu Duluman Dausay, an Ata-Manobo from Talaingod, Davao del Norte said that while they firmly oppose mining in Davao Region, local officials fail to show the same resolve.

“It is no longer the destruction of environment, but the destruction of life as well” the leaders in the Conference said.

The traditional leaders point out that such projects do not contribute to the needs of the people especially to Lumads.

“Do the extraction of minerals go back to us? Do the plantations alleviate hunger?” asks Jomorito Guaynon, a Higaonon leader from Bukidnon.

The Datus and Bais said that these projects ultimately earn profit for foreign-owned companies at the expense of destroying the environment, and ultimately the life and culture of Lumads.

“What future do we leave for our generations if our land is gone?” the leaders asked

In a phone message, Datu Guibang Apoga, Ata-Manobo leader of Talaingod, Davao del Norte, called on fellow lumad leaders to never waiver in defending against “development” projects that destroy the environment.

Guibang also called on them to defend the ancestral land and culture of lumads.

There are 18 ethnolinguistic groups in Mindanao with a three million population. All share the common problem of environment plunder, and the military harassments accompanying these projects.

Large-scale mining companies encroaching the Lumad areas are Xstrata-Sagittarius Mines in South Cotabato and Davao del Sur, Toronto Ventures in Zamboanga del Norte, and four mining companies in Caraga.

Other projects affecting the lumad communities are coal-fired power plants in Davao del Sur and the Aboitiz in Davao City, the Hedcor hydro-power plant in Davao del Sur, plantations such as palm oil in Caraga and jathropa in Bukidnon.

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