Tag Archives: ancestral domain

Malaysian palm oil firm planning to invest $1 billion in Agusan del Sur

BusinessWorld Online
November 22, 2016

A MALAYSIAN COMPANY is planning to invest an initial amount of $1 billion to build plants to process palm oil in Agusan del Sur, according to an official from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

PEZA Director-General Charito B. Plaza said Alif Agro-Industrial, Inc. is looking for 128,000 hectares in Agusan del Sur which would be used as agricultural economic zones.

“$1 billion ang initial nila kasi (is their initial investment because) they’ll put up refinery plants to process the palm oil,” she told reporters on the sidelines of a Nov. 17 event.

Ms. Plaza said the land will be in ancestral domain areas, which is “good” for indigenous people who have been fighting for their rights.

“What we are doing now to accommodate the 128,000 hectares is we talked to the Department of Trade and Industry, and the local government and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples. We are talking with the clans of these owners of these ancestral domains. They already signed a contract or a memorandum of understanding that these will be converted to special eco zones for the palm oil industry.”

Ms. Plaza noted the Philippines is currently importing around five million tons of cooking oil.

She said that they are currently studying the country’s imports with an emphasis on looking for possible crops that could be planted in the economic zones. This would contribute to minimizing the country’s overseas purchase of goods while boosting its export capacity.

Ms. Plaza, who took over the post after former PEZA Director-General Lilia B. De Lima retired earlier this year, is a former representative of Butuan.

PEZA is preparing to introduce changes in the way the government seeks investments, as it explores opening up economic zones for other sectors such as that of national defense.

Moreover, Ms. Plaza said PEZA is making a pivot towards attracting Middle Eastern investors that represent a lot of untapped potential.

This new focus, she said, is because PEZA has previously been occupied with seeking investments from Western and non-Muslim states, when in fact, the Middle East is “where the money is.” — Roy Stephen C. Canivel

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.

Another tales of the Manobo

BusinessWeek Mindanao
April 23, 2011

Exactly four weeks ago the whole Caraga region came to a standstill with surprise episode of a short lived hostage taking. News of the incident caught the attention of the national leadership that is sensitive to a hostage situation that it tries to avoid and handle like a plaque or virus. This time it involved a tribal group of young Manobo’s from the Municipality of Prosperidad in Agusan del Sur. All of the hostage perpetrators were minors. The hostage victims were teachers, parents and innocent elementary school students who were attending a public school graduation in a remote uptown Barangay.

The reason was an offshoot to a government none fulfillment to a previous agreement of land property dispute and inter tribal violent conflagration that incarcerated a tribal leader “for another crime that also resulted to a previous hostage taking of 79 persons in the year 2009”. Legally, there should have been no agreement at all in the first place if there was a crime committed unless innocence is established and resolved by the court.

After a marathon negotiation and nerve trading that sidelines our national government and police officials from their busy schedules in the national capital region, the crisis was resolved without a bloodshed and violence. Not after some concessions and government assurance were signed. All hungry and sickly hostages were released unharmed.

But the incident hugs the headlines for five days and captured the anxiety of the public and the foreign community on the peace and order situation of this country. The national leadership breathed fresh air from the peaceful resolution of the conflict. Never mind if time and government resources were wasted as long as loss of lives were prevented. It was lesson No. 2 for the Aquino government in handling a hostage situation.

What are the concessions agreed and promised? Only those that who signed the documents and received copies really knows until a next hostage taking takes place shall the content of the agreement be made public. Those agreements must either be legal or fulfilled?

But there is logic and reasons that meets the public eye on the background of the issues and treatment of the cultural minorities in Agusan del Sur. The incident could have been prevented if and when the equal protection to our laws and respect to tribal ancestral domain has been resolved in accordance with Article X11, Section 5, of the Philippine Constitution that provides that “the state subject to the provisions of the Constitution and national development policies and progress shall protect the rights of indigenous cultural communities to their ancestral lands to ensure their economic, social and cultural well being”. The implementation of the laws under Republic Act No. 8371, otherwise known as the “Indigenous Peoples Right s Act of 1997” is not clear and resolved in favor of the cultural minorities.

Many of the vast tracts of forest land in Mindanao are awarded to illegal loggers, ranchers and industrial agricultural planters. It has displaced the minorities and left a protracted struggle and agitation for discontent over the deprivation of many of our tribes that lives in the mountains of Mindanao from their ancestral lands. Exploitation of the natural resources and land grabbing often displaced the cultural minorities from their community dwellings and affects their livelihood. A situation most welcomed by the left to expound their cause and gain sympathy and foothold in the countryside.

The Manobo’s are the biggest of the ethnic groups in the Philippines in terms of their relationships and name of groups that belongs to this family of more than 749,042 in population from the 1994 census of the National Statistics Office occupying the areas from Sarangani to the Mindanao mainland in the provinces of Surigao, Agusan del Sur, Davao and Bukidnon.

They have adapted to the various ecological niches in the interiors of Mindanao. Their orientation is upland farming, hunting, handicrafts and gathering of trees for industrial use. Their rich culture in weaving and tapestry are arts to behold and helps connect the present generation of Filipinos to the past. It is a great source of eco-tourism and pride. Ped T. Quiamjot.