26 April 2011
DIGOS CITY â€” 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, Bâ€™laan and Tâ€™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 â€œdevelopmentâ€ 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.
â€œIt is no longer the destruction of environment, but the destruction of life as wellâ€ 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.
â€œDo the extraction of minerals go back to us? Do the plantations alleviate hunger?â€ 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.
â€œWhat future do we leave for our generations if our land is gone?â€ 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 â€œdevelopmentâ€ 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.